Federal Election 2016: Butterfly Foundation - Government moves to allay fears for future of eating disorder helpline
Health Minister Sussan Ley has moved to reassure patients with eating disorders that they will still be able to access specialist counsellors.
The Butterfly Foundation runs the country's only dedicated online and phone support service for people with eating disorders such as anorexia.
The foundation's chief executive Christine Morgan said the support service had only been guaranteed another 12 months of funding. She said the prospect of losing the service filled her with "horror".
The Federal Government is developing a new centralised online "gateway" as part of its shake-up of mental health services.
People ringing in or using web chat would be asked a list of questions which would determine what kind of help they needed.
The Government's expert reference group identified that some of the helpline services were doubling up on what they were offering patients.
But the ABC understands the Butterfly Foundation's unique services would be safe under the changes.
Ms Ley said she simply wanted to make it easier for people to reach out for help.
"There are 20 phone numbers at the moment. We just want there to be one number, be triaged through to the expert advice that they need for their particular condition," she said.
"So all of this is aimed, at the consumer, at the patient."
Ms Morgan said patients needed specific services for eating disorders.
But Ms Ley stressed specialist mental health phone lines would still exist for those who need them.
She said the Mental Health Commission found there were over 30 phone and online mental health services in Australia, but no co-ordinated way to access them.
"This means people with specific mental health needs may not have been aware of specialist services or were falling through the cracks altogether," she said.
Source: ABC News