Tuesday, 27 October 2020 12:47

Heat Smart for summer 2020

ambulances outside an emergency ward ambulances outside an emergency ward

Heatwaves are Australia’s number one natural killer and are considered an ‘extreme risk’ in most Western Sydney LGAs. However, planning and preparedness for heatwaves is relatively underdeveloped when compared with other natural hazards such as flood, fire and storm.

President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), Cllr Barry Calvert, said “Extreme heat is a major risk for Western Sydney communities. Last summer the region experienced 37 days over 35 degrees compared with just six in the Sydney CBD.

“The frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves are projected to worsen over the coming decades due to a combination of climate change and a growing urban heat island effect. While long-term mitigation strategies such as tree-planting, urban planning and emissions reduction, are critical, extreme events will still occur and we must be well-prepared to respond,” he said.

“Heatwave is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because impacts are less visible than other natural hazards. When heatwaves hit, many of us retreat indoors, increasing the isolation of vulnerable groups such as the elderly or chronically ill,” said Cllr Calvert.

“WSROC’s Heat Smart Western Sydney project aims to improve local prepared for heatwaves, with a particular focus on improving the resilience of vulnerable groups.

A GAP Analysis conducted earlier this year identified several ways heatwave management could be improved including at state, regional and local levels including:

  • Appointing a dedicated agency to lead NSW heatwave management.
  • Clarifying local government’s role in emergency management.
  • Developing a standard process for heatwave risk assessment including community exposure and vulnerability.
  • Developing a best-practice framework for heatwave risk management planning.
  • Updating planning instruments with measures to mitigate urban heat islands.
  • Enhancing heatwave warning services so they are locally tailored and targeted.
  • Improving availability and access to cooling shelters, water facilities and air-conditioning.
  • Enhancing the capacity of community organisations and service providers.
  • Improving heatwave messaging and outreach to vulnerable groups.
  • Improving energy affordability and reliability in high-risk areas.

“Over the coming months, WSROC will hold a series of stakeholder consultations to facilitate more coordinated heatwave planning involving state agencies, councils, utilities, community organisations and vulnerable groups,” said Cllr Calvert.

“WSROC will also work with stakeholders to develop resources and deliver workshops on heatwave awareness and preparedness for council staff, community organisations and services, and individuals.

“Collaboration is essential to addressing this serious issue. All parts of the community from governments to individual households have a role to play in building resilience to heatwaves. I look forward to seeing the results of our discussions,” said Cllr Calvert.

If you would like further information on this project please contact Kelly Gee, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 02 9671 4333.

Project partners include: Blacktown, Cumberland, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Western Sydney Local Health District.

This project is funded by the NSW Government Community Resilience Innovation Grants.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 October 2020 14:11