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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework 2021

2.3 Legislative and policy context

The Framework has been endorsed by the Australian, state and territory governments and operates within Australia’s existing system of legislative and regulatory governance. This includes international agreements that Australia has signed.

Responsibility for all aspects of emergency management and recovery is shared between governments, individuals, industry, non-government organisations, and communities. The Australian Government Crisis Management Framework (AGCMF) outlines the Australian Government’s approach to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from crisis events. It provides ministers and senior officials with guidance on their respective roles and responsibilities. Other relevant frameworks include the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, the Australian Disaster Preparedness Framework, and the forthcoming National Recovery Framework.

States and territories have the lead role in emergency planning and coordination, but have recourse to national support on a cost-sharing basis for financial and non-financial assistance. Each state and territory has different emergency management arrangements for relief and recovery. These span multiple departmental structures, including a range of capabilities.

Within health, cross-jurisdictional agreements such as the National Health Emergency Response Arrangements 2011 (NatHealth Arrangements) and the National Health Security Agreement 2011 direct how the Australian health sector collaborates to prepare and respond to emergencies of national consequence. The Framework is consistent with these agreements. States and territories have their own detailed legislation governing decisionmaking in a health emergency, and it is expected that they would adapt and integrate the Framework in a manner that suits their context.

Key agreements such as the Closing the Gap Agreement which mandates partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations are also relevant to the Framework’s implementation. They need to be reflected in place-based responses, including engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and community controlled organisations in developing and delivering mental health and wellbeing supports.