Swan Hill experiences extreme heat during late spring, throughout summer and often into autumn. With summer days recorded to over 46o the impact of extreme heat on communities and individuals in Swan Hill is severe.
With limited shaded and cooled public spaces, it's difficult for vulnerable members of the community, such as mothers with young children and the elderly, to stay cool and safe on days of extreme heat. Lea Johnson, Coordinator, said, “Many people cannot afford to run, or even have, air-conditioning in their homes on really hot days”.
To reduce the impact of extreme heat on vulnerable communities in Swan Hill in 2015-16 Neighbourhood Houses Victoria developed the ‘Beat the Heat’ program. Funded through CFA’s Summer Fire Safety Local Initiatives, they worked with CFA, SES, Victoria Police, local government and other emergency services organisations to provide and promote welcoming and cool public access locations such as the local library, swimming pool, museum and the Neighbourhood House.
Additionally Swan Hill NH worked with the local leisure centre to support a more equitable use of the swimming pool. Vouchers were made available over the course of the summer and as such over 1000 people accessed the local pool for free on days forecast to be over 38o.
Swan Hill NH also developed a guide on ‘How to stay safe and cool in summer’ which provides information on how to avoid heat stress and details of facilities available for use on days of extreme heat.
To communicate the work this program achieved throughout 2015/16 Swan Hill Neighbourhood House developed this animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpOmUleDgPc&feature=youtu.be
Swan Hill Neighbourhood House received funding for the event through the Summer Fire Safety Local Initiatives program. This program provides brigades and selected community organisations with small, one-off funding grants to deliver highly localised projects that build and empower community leadership and develop awareness, shared responsibility and self-reliance to ultimately strengthen resilience. The program is currently funding 21 projects across the state.
Author: Sian Jepson