Almost 1 in 10 Australians will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime, yet only 25% of those people will receive treatment.
That’s why, at Butterfly, we’re passionate about increasing access to diagnosis, treatment and support for all people living with a body image issue or eating disorder. No matter your size, shape, age, abilities, gender identity, sexual identity, cultural identity, language, economic status, profession or location—or anything else that makes you the person you are—we are here to support you. At Butterfly we celebrate and value diversity.
We know that some groups are more vulnerable to systemic prejudice, abuse, and psychological stress. While we honour the resilience and strength of communities and individuals, we also acknowledge that psychological stress can lead to mental ill-health, eating disorders and body image issues.
Building a strategy of inclusion
Thanks to funding from the Australian Federal Government, we have been given the opportunity to build and implement a strategy to increase help-seeking to Butterfly’s helpline by males, people identifying as LGBTQIA+, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. While we are mindful that this doesn’t cover the full spectrum of diversity in Australia, it is our honest start to serving populations who may not fit unhelpful stereotypes around body image issues and eating disorders.
What we did to increase our responsiveness
To understand how we can increase our responsiveness to the needs of people identifying as LGBTQIA+, people from multicultural backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and males, we consulted with more than 68 individuals who identified as belonging to these communities. Many of our consultants also had lived experience of a body image issue or eating disorder. We also worked closely with a reference group of engaged organisations, specialists and academic advisors.
What we learned
- When it comes to inclusion, Butterfly needs to implement meaningful change and ‘walk the talk’
- With images and by other means, people want to see more of themselves in our communications
- When people take the risk to reach out, they hope to be met with understanding, in their language, and on their terms
What we did first
- All Butterfly staff and counsellors received LGBTQIA+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander competence training
- We developed a social inclusion toolkit to help Butterfly staff develop inclusive communications and programs
- We developed an internal diversity and inclusion strategy and an internal working group with staff members especially engaged in these issues
- We embedded cultural and social competency into our induction process
- Our human resources and other policies were rewritten to reduce unconscious bias
What we’re doing next
- We’re rebranding as we recognise our traditionally feminine look is a barrier to some people in our community. Butterfly’s new website is due May 2020!
- We’re continuing to collaborate with mental health organisations who have competency in inclusion and diversity care
- In association with Reconciliation Australia, we are developing a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
- Our outreach team is actively recruiting lived experience ambassadors who reflect the full diversity of the Australian people
- We’re asking practitioners in regional and remote areas to apply to the Butterfly National Helpline’s referral database to better support underserved groups
- We’ll begin instituting our RAP plan at Butterfly
- The entire Butterfly team will go through unconscious bias training
- In order to always enhance our responsiveness, we’ll continue to work closely with diverse people from a variety of backgrounds who have lived experience of body image issues and eating disorders
- Along with stories of lived experience, we’ll post information, research and resources about eating disorders and body image issues in diverse populations to our website
Finally, at Butterfly we are committed to full transparency. Watch this space for reports on our progress as we continue to improve and refine our inclusion initiatives.
If you have lived experience of an eating disorder or body image issue, or you are the family or friend of someone who does, and you also identify with an underserved group, please email us at email@example.com. We’d love to talk to you.
Thank you to our reference group and contributors
Thank you to the Murrumbidgee Local Health Department, Headspace, Beyond Blue, Reach Out, Q Life, National LGBTI Health Alliance, Working it out, Livin’, CAGES Foundation, Mensline, Kids Helpline, Dr Scott Griffiths, Prof Phillipa Hay, Dr Wayne Usher, Dr Don McCreary, Kai Schweizer, and all the individuals with lived experience of eating disorders guiding us in creating inclusive supports.