Natural disasters not only take lives, but can also have a serious effect on the health and wellbeing of those who survive. These effects may be felt most strongly by those in close proximity to the disaster, but, as the bushfire smoke that blanketed large parts of Australia in early 2020 may demonstrate, the effect of natural disasters can be widespread.
This issues paper explores some of the health and mental health arrangements in relation to natural disasters in Australia. It provides an overview of Australia’s health care arrangements and discusses the role of primary care providers, the health effects of bushfire smoke, and whether there is a need for greater research into any particular health effects of natural disasters.
The paper does not seek to cover every health issue that the Royal Commission may consider. Further issues may be explored in relation to health arrangements in natural disasters.
This paper poses six questions on which the Royal Commission invites comment by 26 June 2020.