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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 disasters.

The Framework guides those working within governments, as well as first response agencies and the community. The focus is two-fold:

  1. Providing mental health services during and following disasters
  2. Rebuilding thriving communities to support good mental health and wellbeing

The Framework was released in June 2023 by the National Emergency Managemet Agency (NEMA). NEMA are leading the implementation of the Framework.

Why did the Commission develop the Framework?

Droughts, cyclones, floods and bushfires are among many disasters Australians experience. Since 2020 these natural disasters have been 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.

Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements - Report – October 2020

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 (such as state and notional bushfire, flood and drought agencies)
  • 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


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National Disaster Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework

View the document on the NEMA website

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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.