Mental health

New framework to support the mental health of disaster-affected communities

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The Albanese Government is investing $7 million to boost mental health and wellbeing support to enhance resilience to disasters, including support to emergency services workers.

A new National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework will guide how governments and recovery partners can consistently support the mental health and wellbeing of communities before, during and after disaster events.

Informed by lived and living experience, the framework has been developed by the National Mental Health Commission and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in consultation with states and territories.

The Framework aims to provide consistent, national guidance for how to effectively provide mental health support and services and define the roles and responsibilities between levels of government and the private/non-government sector.

Through the 2023-24 Budget, the Albanese Government will boost mental health and wellbeing support to enhance resilience to disasters, including critical support to emergency services workers through:

  • the Black Dog Institute’s National Emergency Workers Support Service ($4.1 million)
  • the Australian Psychological Society to continue and expand the Disaster Response Network ($2.9 million).

This funding will ensure the critical support services continue to support disaster-affected communities and frontline workers as the Government works to implement the Framework.

See the Framework.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt:

“Natural disaster risk is increasing, and more communities are being negatively impacted by concurrent and compounding events.

“The mental health impacts of disasters can be long-lasting, and will become more significant as these events increase in the future.

“We need to make sure we are pulling together all the support we can nationally to assist people at-risk of, or experiencing, distress and mental ill-health following a major disaster event, which this Framework will allow us to do.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and Member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain:

“We know natural disasters compound existing medical conditions and can cause significant health impacts both during and after they strike, which is why we are ensuring that people do not have to carry the burden of resilience on their own.

“By having a nationally-coordinated approach to natural disaster mental health and wellbeing, we are ensuring that people can access the right type of support and services as they move back towards something that resembled their life prior to the disaster.

“My own electorate of Eden-Monaro has experienced 35 declared natural disasters since 2016 – and whether people have lost their home or been a first responder, the impact on them has been profound, which is why this Framework is an important step in our disaster recovery process.”

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride:

“The mental health impacts of natural disasters and emergencies are well known and have been felt acutely by many Australians.

“It is critical all governments work together to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australians after disasters, and build resilience in communities. This Framework will help us to do that through a coordinated and consistent approach.

“The Framework is about planning for and managing emergencies to make sure people get the mental health support they need, where and when they need it.”

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