National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework
The Commission led the development of a National Framework to guide a co-oordinated approach in Australia to mental health experiences in the context of national disasters.
The Framework aims to improve how governments work together to respond and support people’s mental health before, during and after natural disasters.
The Framework guides those working within governments, as well as first response agencies and the community. The focus is two-fold:
- Providing mental health services during and following disasters
- Rebuilding thriving communities to support good mental health and wellbeing
Why did the Commission develop the Framework?
Droughts, cyclones, floods and bushfires are among many disasters Australians experience. Since 2020 these natural disasters have beene compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian Government is fine-tuning its capacity to assist in disaster situations and at the same time the impacts of disasters on mental health and wellbeing are becoming better understood.
Across Australia, a variety of organisations are working on this issue and the Framework will help harmonise their efforts.
Australia wide, there was significant community loss, devastation of wildlife and adverse health impacts. These losses were exacerbated by severe hailstorms, and floods in some areas that were just starting to recover from the fires. Then COVID-19 hit.
Who did the Commission work with to develop the Framework?
The Commission worked with individuals, communities and organisations to development the Framework including;
- People in areas affected by disasters
- Responsible government agencies (including both health and emergency response related agencies), Primary Health Networks, Local Health Districts
- Health agencies, Primary Health Networks, Local Health Districts
- Local governments
- Non-government organisations such as the Red Cross, Lifeline and Rotary
- Mental health and disaster researchers and experts
- People with lived experience of mental health issues and people who care for them
Funding and Timeline
The Framework was funded from the Australian Government’s $76 Million Bushfire Mental Health Response Package provided for the 2019-2020 bushfires. However, the Framework’s scope is beyond just bushfires, including the preparation for disasters, relief activity and recovery.