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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework 2021

5.2 People who provide navigation and connection assistance

"And, there was a – a case worker. She was amazing…she’s just like, ‘Whatever you need. You know, I’m here to listen to what you need.’ Not telling me what, you know? …it was also, ‘What do you need today, right here, now?’"16

The type of care and support people receive has an impact on their journey to recovery. The Commission’s Our Stories: Beyond the Disaster research found:

  • • what helped people was connecting with others who made them feel understood and who provided direct assistance. This assistance was energising, not debilitating.
  • • If this didn’t happen, mental health support was often a final consideration of the many challenges disaster-affected people were tackling. Practical issues such as insurance, housing, and supporting family inevitably rose to the top.

The navigation and connection role (currently performed by a variety of case managers and other intermediaries)17 is crucial to ensuring people receive the help they need. The people affected by a disaster may be unfamiliar with using welfare-related services. Practical assistance with paperwork and complex administrative processes, letting people know of opportunities over time, and people who listen, check in, and help those with similar experiences connect, are highly valued. Evidence is varied but suggests roles which proactively support people to navigate the service system should ideally be available for up to five years following a major event, depending on need and workforce availability.

A clear, national commitment to funding the navigator and connector function following disasters will benefit help-seekers and make planning easier.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.