Respond To The Mental Health Impacts Of Disasters


The SA.GOV.AU disaster recovery website is a central point where you can find information about what disaster recovery is, and how the Department of Human Services (DHS) contributes to disaster recovery. It also links people with information on what local relief, response and recovery arrangements have been put in place during and following a disaster.

Response strategies refer to the actions taken to deal with the more immediate needs at the time of the disaster.

It is important that anyone who may be involved in disaster response has access to information on mental health impacts, how to respond to people experiencing distress, and knowledge of support pathways. This will enable those who are affected by the disaster to link with the right supports at the right time. It will also enable first responders to have increased confidence and skills in managing these highly stressful situations whilst also maintaining their own wellbeing.

Relief Centres

During the response phase, the Emergency Relief Functional Support Group (ERFSG) may open relief centres near the affected areas to provide short-term shelter, information and personal support services such as food and temporary accommodation. The ERFSG, SA Health and Red Cross work in partnership to provide Psychological First Aid (PFA) at relief centres to affected community members. The Emergency Relief Functional Support Group also reaches out to the community through home visits and phone calls.
What is the Emergency Relief Functional Support Group?

The Emergency Relief Functional Support Group coordinates the delivery of practical advice and personal support services required by individuals, families and communities both during and after the disaster has occurred. Housing SA is the lead agency for the ERFSG, supported by a number of agencies including:

  • Lions International
  • Disaster and Recovery Ministries
  • Rotary International
  • Australian Red Cross
  • Insurance Council of Australia
  • Uniting Communities
  • Foodbank.


The Emergency Relief Functional Support Group can be contacted by email:

Psychological First Aid (PFA)

SA Health has a Memorandum of Understanding with Red Cross SA to provide Psychological First Aid and pathways to care for affected communities following a disaster. This support is also available for first responders or people Psychological First Aid aims to support natural recovery for those affected by:

  • Helping people to feel safe, connected to others, calm and hopeful
  • Facilitating access to physical, emotional and social support
  • Reducing initial distress, meeting the more immediate needs, promoting flexible coping and encouraging adjustment.
  • Providing both practical and emotional support and information
  • Providing information and links to other support services.