Extra mental health funding support will be provided to First Nations communities affected by major flooding, caused by a number of recent cyclones and monsoonal events in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.
The Australian Government will provide $4.8 million to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to boost mental health services for First Nations communities impacted by these floods.
Several regions across Western Australia and the Northern Territory experienced extensive flooding due to Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie. Northern and Central Queensland also experienced significant flooding events in March 2023 due to heavy monsoonal rain.
Funding will be distributed to 13 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in communities affected by these floods, to allow them to deliver culturally appropriate trauma counselling, healing and mental health support.
NACCHO will retain some funds to respond to any emerging mental health needs in flood-affected communities, and to work with other service providers to ensure holistic, comprehensive health care is available to local communities.
This mental health support aligns with Recommendation 15.3 of the 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements to support localised planning and delivery of mental health services, before, during and after a disaster.
This assistance builds on supports already rolled out to flood-impacted regions, including a $1 million Community Mental Health Package to deliver targeted mental health and wellbeing services to those impacted in the North West Queensland flood through Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements between the Australian Government and Queensland Government.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP:
“Climate change is hitting many remote communities hard as the number and severity of natural disasters increases.
“When one extreme event follows another, it can be extremely damaging to people’s mental and emotional wellbeing, affecting their ability to heal and resume normal life.
“Providing these people with culturally sensitive support for their mental health and wellbeing is a priority for the Government.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Murray Watt:
“We understand that living through a natural disaster and the recovery process that follows can take a significant toll on mental health.
“By ensuring communities have access to proper support we can help regions to recover both mentally and physically.
“As these communities transition from the initial flood clean-up to longer-term recovery, this additional support from the Albanese Government will be of great assistance. We will stand alongside the State and Territory governments and local Councils as their recovery efforts continue.”
Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride MP:
“The distress resulting from natural disasters and emergencies are well known and have been felt acutely by many First Nations Australians.
"We know that the right kind of care is community based and community led. This funding will assist in scaling up what works while providing wrap around care for those who need it the most.
“It is critical government and community organisations continue to work together to support the wellbeing of First Nations Australians after disasters and build resilience in communities.”
Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy:
“Flooding is an awful experience for any community, causing emotional distress and mental health issues.
“For remote First Nations communities it can be particularly devastating as they are isolated from their kin, displaced from their homes and removed from country.
“This extra funding will allow local community-controlled health services to provide much-needed mental health support, so these communities can rebuild and recover.”