Natural disasters in Australia affect millions of people. Current predictions of extreme weather events in a warming climate forecast more frequent and severe disasters from extreme weather events in the coming decades. Mental health following disasters is a key economic and public health issue, and includes not only the direct psychological impact of the disaster itself, but also managing the emotional difficulties arising from confronting the secondary stressors that disasters generate.
The APS Disaster Response Network (DRN) is a national network of psychologists who have a special interest and expertise in working with individuals and communities affected by disasters and emergencies in Australia as well as those working to assist them. There are currently about 1700 members in the DRN, and the numbers increase each year as different States are impacted by a major disaster.
Governments continue to plan their disaster responses based on the immediate physical and health needs of the affected communities, which is entirely appropriate. Unfortunately the mental health of that population is generally an afterthought which can lead to inappropriate engagement of well-meaning people that can delay the overall recovery of these communities.
All governments need to include strategies to address the psychosocial wellbeing of people affected by disasters and fund these accordingly.
The Australian Psychological Society seeks the support of all political parties to ensure that natural disaster funding takes into account the need to address the psychological impact of natural disasters on individuals, their families and whole communities and the involvement of appropriately trained workers.
For further details of this proposal, please contact the Australian Psychological Society
Professor Lyn Littlefield OAM, Executive Director email@example.com
Mr Harry Lovelock, Senior Executive Manager, Strategic Development and Public Interest firstname.lastname@example.org
The APS has asked for a response from the major political parties regarding the key issues. Party responses will be posted below, as we receive them:
The APS supports the GP campaign against the continued freezing of indexation of Medicare rebates.