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10 Oct 2017

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has launched the Butterfly Foundation’s National Agenda for Eating Disorders.

The Butterfly Foundation will receive an additional $1.2 million over the next two years to roll this out nationally through the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

The goal of the National Agenda is to ensure Australia has a national approach to help people with eating disorders and to establish a bank of information around what works, so people suffering from this disease can access the best treatment for their needs. 

The Agenda was developed in consultation with Australia’s eating disorders experts and those with a lived experience of an eating disorder.

Launching the National Agenda in September, Mr Hunt said that the Federal Government was committed to bringing together State and Territory governments and industry to deliver a consistent response in treating and supporting people with eating disorders. 

The Government in the Budget this year announced it will provide almost $3 million for more support and better treatment for people suffering from eating disorders. 

Eating disorders not only affect an individual’s relationship with food, but also body image, confidence, mental health, and overall health. 

In May, Minister Hunt requested the Medical Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce investigate options for Medicare coverage for the treatment needs of those people with an eating disorder, including physical, psychological, behavioural, nutritional, occupational and social needs. The aim is to increase the skills of health professionals to identify and respond to eating disorders through a nationally consistent approach. 

The Butterfly Foundation’s Chief Executive Christine Morgan believes this is critical because currently the foundation believes that only 25 per cent of Australians with an eating disorder currently seek treatment.

“The Agenda addresses critical areas of health system reform and identifies the priorities needed to provide access to evidence-based multi-disciplinary treatment and dosages to any Australian with or at risk of an eating order,” Ms Morgan said.

Mr Hunt also announced funding of $1.7 million to support expansion of the 1800 ED HOPE national helpline, allowing 1800 ED HOPE’s hours to be increased so it remains open from 8am to midnight seven days a week.  This expansion will happen by February, 2018.

The telephone helpline is the only of its kind in Australia.

The Butterfly Foundation welcomed the support for the hotline saying they are committed to: “Ensuring there is no divide between those who can afford treatment and those who can’t.”

 Ms Morgan said the announcement marked a milestone in Australia’s recognition and response to people living with an eating disorder.

“The launch of the first National Agenda for Eating Disorders, coupled with the Minister’s restated commitment to a review of Medicare to more comprehensively cover the needs of those with eating disorders, constitutes the policy realignment that has been sadly lacking to date,” she said.

The Butterfly Foundation has also recently launched an Australian-first Youth Intensive Outpatient Program in Sydney, a low cost program, costing families $120 per patient per week over the 10-week program. 

The AMA expressed support for a nationally coordinated approach in order to develop effective and consistent practices in preventing and addressing the incidence of unhealthy body image and eating disorders. The AMA’s position paper Body Image and Health can be found here:

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 or


Published: 10 Oct 2017