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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework 2021

2.6 Key Priorities

The Framework has eight Key Priorities. These align to the 2018 Australian National Principles for Disaster Recovery. Below the priorities are highlighted, together with explanation of what they mean in practice.

Alignment to National Principles for Disaster Recovery National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework Key Priorities
Acknowledge and build capacity 1. Strengthen local community capability: Develop and strengthen local community capability for mental health and wellbeing preparedness, response, and recovery. Workers and community leaders with local knowledge and strong inter-personal relationships are vital to this.
Communicate effectively 2. Establish regular communication: Regular communication (via multiple means) from a trusted source of information is essential to reduce confusion. Information and resources that can be adapted locally should be provided in a coordinated way and tailored by each community. Both physical and mental health needs should be considered to ensure an integrated approach. Exaggerated and emotive imagery should be avoided in public communication
Use community-led approaches 3. Develop flexible mental health and wellbeing responses: Mental health and wellbeing responses must be adapted to local and emerging conditions. They must be able to integrate flexibly with the wide range of businesses and services people use.
Coordinate all activities 4. Ensure frictionless access to help: Services should be welcoming and easy to access, particularly for those unsure of where to go. Eligibility should be clear and simple. Cross-service collaboration should be adopted widely to minimise the need for repeat story-telling and to ensure people can seamlessly access the most appropriate service for them.
Understand the context 5. Provide culturally safe and appropriate support: Recognise the cultural diversity within communities and prepare responses that are understandable, relatable, and culturally respectful. Recognise the cumulative trauma and cultural impact of disaster on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and ensure culturally safe and appropriate support is available.
Recognise complexity 6. Minimise the impact of aftermath stressors: Reducing the impact of aftermath stressors on people’s mental health and wellbeing helps to improve recovery outcomes and reduce a person’s risk of experiencing long-term mental ill-health. Coordination functions are essential to mitigate stress, duplication, and practical difficulties in service delivery.
Acknowledge and build capacity 7. Learn and improve: What has been learned from previous disasters should guide community preparedness before, during, and after disasters. Ways to record lessons and share experiences with broad community involvement need to be agreed and publicised..
Recognise Complexity 8. Plan long-term following the disaster: Planning and funding for the preparation and response, and recovery from disaster, especially in relation to mental health and wellbeing, needs to have a five-to-ten-year horizon.
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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.