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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • disaster;
  • literature review;
  • nurses;
  • preparedness and response;
  • public health

Abstract

To date, Australia has not had to respond to a nationwide catastrophic event. However, over the past decade, heat waves, bushfires, cyclones, and floods have significantly challenged Australia's disaster preparedness and the surge capacity of local and regional health systems. Given that disaster events are predicted to increase in impact and frequency, the health workforce needs to be prepared for and able to respond effectively to a disaster. To be effective, nurses must be clear regarding their role in a disaster and be able to articulate the value and relevance of this role to communities and the professionals they work with. Since almost all disasters will exert some impact on public health, it is expedient to prepare the public health nursing workforce within Australia. This paper highlights issues currently facing disaster nursing and focuses on the challenges for Australian public health nurses responding to and preparing for disasters within Australia. The paper specifically addresses public health nurses' awareness regarding their roles in disaster preparation and response, given their unique skills and central position in public health.