Bushfires and floods
Australia is prone to bushfires and floods. These natural disasters often have serious effects on people’s health, including:
- burns and smoke inhalation
- outbreaks of water borne diseases from contaminated flood waters
- mental health issues resulting from trauma or stress.
Learn about what you can do to prepare for:
Responding to national natural disasters
In the event of a natural disaster that becomes a national emergency, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer activates the National Incident Centre. This can happen when:
- health aspects of the incident need national coordination
- a natural disaster results in mass casualties
- we deploy Australian medical personnel in an emergency.
We publish health-related information about the emergency on our website to keep the public informed.
The Australian Government has a Disaster Response Plan (COMDISPLAN) that provides non-financial help to an affected state or territory when they are overwhelmed by an emergency or disaster.
Our role in this plan is related to the health aspects of the situation, including:
- monitoring emerging communicable disease issues and outbreaks
- providing specialist technical advice and expertise, such as
- epidemiological information
- advice on infection control
- sending medical assistance teams (AUSMAT)
- coordinating public health responses across different states and territories
- implementing human biosecurity and border health measures
- communicating with health sector partners and stakeholders
- meeting international health reporting obligations, particularly under the International Health Regulations
- managing the National Medical Stockpile and providing supplies to states and territories
- handling the logistics of aged care residents when evacuating or relocating.
Learn more about the COMDISPLAN.
Environmental impact of natural disasters
Natural disasters can affect our health long after the emergency is over. For example, there might be:
- issues with water quality after flooding or an oil spill
- exposure to asbestos during a bushfire.
Learn about the health effects of:
Learn more about what we’re doing to improve environmental health in Australia.