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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework 2021


  • 1. Australian Government (2018) State of the Climate 2018, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.
  • 2. Commonwealth of Australia (2020) Australian Government Crisis Management Framework, Version 2.3, p. 7.
  • 3. World Health Organization (2013) Building back better: sustainable mental health care after emergencies. WHO: Geneva.
  • 4. ‘After’ also means ‘ongoing’ in the context of the Framework.
  • 5. Gibbs L, Molyneaux R, Harms L, Gallagher H C, Block K, Richardson J, Brandenburg V, O’Donnell M, Kellett C, Quinn P, Kosta L, Brady K, Ireton G, MacDougall C, Bryant R. (2020) 10 Years Beyond Bushfires Report. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 6. Beaglehole and others, (2018) ‘Psychological Distress and Psychiatric Disorder after Natural Disasters: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.’, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 213.6 pp 716–22.
  • 7. Emergency services workers and volunteers are the focus of a dedicated mental health National Action Plan (2021-2024) to be published by National Recovery and Resilience Agency in 2021, and also the focus of some state plans such as Emergency Management Victoria’s Resilient Recovery Strategy 2019 www.emv.
  • 8. The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has created a disaster resilience index based on social, economic and environmental factors that can help (prior to disaster) to identify vulnerable communities.
  • 9. McFarlane, A. C., & Williams, R. (2012) Mental Health Services Required after Disasters: Learning from the Lasting Effects of Disasters in Depression Research and Treatment.
  • 10. IASC (2020) Basic Psychosocial Skills, a Guide for COVID-19 First Responders, produced by the IASC Reference Group for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, p. 10.
  • 11. The NMHC’s Our Stories research contains vivid accounts by disaster survivors of how they or others close to them became accidental ‘social workers’ as well as undertaking their normal occupations.
  • 12. McFarlane, A. C., & Williams, R. (2012) Mental Health Services Required after Disasters: Learning from the Lasting Effects of Disasters.
  • 13. MacFarlane, C. and R. Williams (2012) p. 4.
  • 14. See Wade D et al (2012) A multi-level framework to guide mental health response following a natural disaster. Bereavement Care; 31(3) pp 109-13.
  • 15. Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements (2020) Interim Observations, 31 August 2020 pp. 7, 22.
  • 16. NMHC (2021) Our Stories: Beyond the Disaster, p. 42, at
  • 17. Several terms can be used to refer to the intermediary function and these names are not meant to exclude others.
  • 18. Commonwealth of Australia (2020) Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements Report. p. 351
  • 19. The Australian Government is developing a National Mental Health Workforce Strategy to conclude in 2021. It will consider the quality, supply, distribution and structure of the mental health workforce and ‘consider appropriate access to the mental health workforce for the specific needs of regional, rural, remote and very remote communities.’ See
  • 20. Examples of how ‘constructed consumer profiles’ can usefully be created to allow consideration of the service ecosystem and the relationships and links with in it are found in NMHC (2021) Our Stories – Beyond the Disaster.
  • 21. McFarlane, A. C. and Williams, R. (2012).
  • 22. Queensland Government (2018) Queensland Health Mental Health Sub-plan: A Sub-plan of the Queensland Health Disasters and Emergency Incident Plan.
  • 23. Australian Government, Department of Health (2020) Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability and (2021) Providing health care remotely during COVID-19. Accessed on 30 March 2021.
  • 24. AIHW (2020) ‘How COVID-19 changed the way Australians used health services in 2019-20’. During September 2020 Lifeline saw a 15.6% increase from the same time in 2019, Kids Helpline received a 14.3% increase and Beyond Blue’s general phone service 21.3%. Between 16 March 2020 and 27 September 2020, 7.2 million Medicare-subsidised mental health related services were delivered nationally of which over one-third were delivered via telehealth.
  • 25. Our Stories: Beyond the Disaster.
  • 26. Gibbs L, et al (2020).
  • 27. Paul, R. and Thompson, C., 2006. Employee assistance program responses to large scale traumatic events: Lessons learned and future opportunities. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 21(3-4), pp.1-19.
  • 28. The guidelines, approved May 2020, can be found at Phoenix Australia
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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.