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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework 2021


Australians will continue to face serious hazards in the coming years. In contrast to other parts of the world where war or civil conflict is present, the majority of these hazards are environmental events or processes. As a result, they disproportionately affect people living in rural and remote areas, and those in certain demographic groups (such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People) – the impacts on these priority populations is explored in greater detail in the supporting documents to the Framework.

Research on how people cope in such crises has increased in the last decade, including longitudinal or tracking studies which tell us about the varied patterns that occur over time. Such has shown that severe stress reactions followed by recovery, delayed onset reactions, and chronic conditions, also occur.

This Framework sets out actions that strengthen individual, family, and community resilience, make recovery more likely, and treat delayed reactions and chronic conditions. Many of these relate to the disaster planning and preparation needed at a community level, and ways to reduce ‘aftermath stress’ which can be more debilitating and stressful than the disaster itself. In the context of mental health and wellbeing, acknowledging that the impacts of a traumatic event can appear months or years afterwards, and accommodating for this, is critical. Similarly, the Framework emphasises that the way services and supports are delivered is as important as the type of support delivered. Local planning and, where possible, delivery, tailored to local needs is therefore important.

For this reason, the Framework is not designed for standardised implementation but for all recovery partners to use to enhance current arrangements. Its goal is greater consistency in what all Australians can expect in support of their mental health and wellbeing in the context of disasters, while recognising that how this is achieved will require collaborative, tailored solutions involving all levels of government, other recovery partners, and the community.

Aboriginal flag Torres Strait Islander flag

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.