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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework 2021


Build back better

The use of the recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction phases after a disaster to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalisation of livelihoods, economies, and the environment. The term “societal” will not be interpreted as a political system of any country.

Communities of practice

A reference to a particular geographical area or areas.


A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability, and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic and environmental losses and impacts. The effect of the disaster can be immediate and localised, but is often widespread and can last for a long period of time. It may test or exceed the capacity of a community or society to cope using its own resources, and therefore may require assistance from external sources, which could include neighbouring jurisdictions, or those at the national or international levels.


A process, phenomenon or human activity that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, social and economic disruption, or environmental degradation. Hazards may be natural, anthropogenic (human-caused) and/or socio-natural in origin.

UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) was established by the United Nations in 1992 in response to UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182, which called for strengthened coordination of humanitarian assistance.

The resolution set up the IASC as the primary mechanism for facilitating inter-agency decision making in response to complex emergencies and natural disasters. The IASC is formed by the heads of a broad range of UN and non-UN humanitarian organisations. See

Mental health

Having good mental health or being mentally healthy involves a state of wellbeing. The World Health Organization defines this as a state in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Mental illness

A clinically diagnosable disorder that significantly interferes with a person’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities. Examples include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Mental ill-health

A broader term encompassing both mental illness and other mental health difficulties.

Peer worker or Lived Experience worker

Workers who have a lived experience of mental illness and who provide valuable contributions and support to people who experience mental-ill health by sharing their experience of mental illness and recovery.

Prevention (mental illness)

Action taken to prevent the development of mental illness, including action to promote mental health and wellbeing and action to reduce the risk factors for mental illness.

Primary care or primary health care

The entry level to the health system and usually a person’s first encounter with the health system. It includes a broad range of activities and services from health promotion and prevention to treatment and management of acute and chronic conditions.


The process of coming to terms with the impacts of a disaster and managing the disruptions and changes caused, which can result, for some people, in a new way of living. For individuals, recovery is being able to create and live a meaningful and contributing life, with or without the presence of mental illness. It incorporates social, personal, clinical, and functional domains. Recovery involves hope, self-determination, self-management, empowerment, and advocacy. For communities, recovery can mean rebuilding social connections and trust as well as the natural, social, and physical infrastructure.

Recovery committee

A committee which may be convened after an emergency to provide a management forum for the recovery process in respect of an affected area or a specific community.


For individuals, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, or other significant sources of stress including family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or disasters and their aftermath. For communities, it is the ability to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its basic structures and functions.

Stepped care

An evidence-based staged system comprising a hierarchy of interventions, from the least to the most intensive, matched to a person’s needs. Within a stepped care approach, a person is supported to transition up to higher-intensity services or transition down to lower intensity services as their needs change.


A negative opinion or judgment that can exclude, shame, or devalue a person or group of people on the basis of a particular characteristic, such as their perceived ability to cope.

Potentially traumatic event

Any event that involves exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence has the potential to be traumatic. Almost everyone who experiences trauma will be emotionally affected, but not everyone will respond in the same way.

For a comprehensive glossary of disaster-related terms, see the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience’s Australia Disaster Resilience Glossary at

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.