Community preparedness for disasters

Community preparedness aims to assist communities to withstand a crisis event, minimise the mental health impacts and support community recovery.

Key factors in supporting community preparedness from a mental health perspective include:


  • knowing the potential risks and likelihood of disasters occurring in the area, what types of disasters might occur, who is likely to be affected, and the potential mental health impacts
  • Understanding the communities capacity for managing the mental health impacts of disasters, including knowledge of existing resources and how to access them
  • Awareness of the learnings and recommendations from disasters that have occurred recently or in the past.


  • Collaborative partnerships between:
    • SA Health
    • other government departments
    • Emergency Services
    • Primary Health Networks
    • Local Council
    • Australian Red Cross
    • other non-government organisations
  • Awareness of policies and frameworks that relate to disaster preparedness, response and recovery arrangements, including clearly defined roles and functions for different agencies involved in disaster management.

Community engagement

  • Engaging with the local community to understand the capacity for managing the mental health impacts of disasters, available resources and identifying needs from the communities perspective.

Mental health literacy

  • Understand the communities knowledge of the mental health impacts of disasters, emotional preparedness strategies, early warning signs, emotional recovery and supports that are available
  • Identify strategies for increasing mental health literacy and awareness and ensuring that mental health is included in all aspects of disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

At-risk groups

  • Have an awareness of individuals or groups that may be more at risk if a disaster occurs in the local area
  • Ensure that information and resources are relevant and accessible for individuals and communities who may be more at risk including:
    • young people
    • older people
    • Aboriginal communities
    • people with existing mental health or physical health conditions
    • people with a disability
    • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
    • people with recent/previous experience of disasters or other traumas.

Community planning

  • Knowledge of current action plans relevant to individual agencies in the community and how these align as part of an over-arching plan to assist the community in being more prepared and responding and recovering more quickly.

Access to information and resources