Background Disasters have a significant impact on mental health that may be mitigated by promoting resilience. This study explores the lay perspective on public health interventions that have the potential to facilitate resilience of adults who experience a natural disaster. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted 6 months post-disaster between June 2011 and January 2012 with 19 people who experienced the 2010/11 Victorian floods. Twenty lay witness statements from people who presented to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission were also selected for analysis. Transcripts were analysed using an interpretive and comparative content analysis to develop an understanding of disaster resilience interventions in an ecological framework. Results The participants identified resilience focused interventions such as information that help individuals manage emotions and make effective decisions and plans, or enable access to resources; face-to-face communication strategies such as public events that restore or create new social connections; rebuilding of community capacity through coordination of volunteers and donations and policies that manage disaster risk. Conclusions Disaster recovery interventions designed within an ecological model can promote a comprehensive integrated systems approach to support resilience in affected populations.