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Climate change impacts are felt by all, and it is up to all of us to take action to reduce the impacts and adapt to its effects

The impacts of climate change

Projected changes in climate for Victoria include a substantial increase in heat related extremes, while the number of days with a 'severe' fire danger is projected to increase by 25-35 per cent by 2030.

Heatwaves have led to more deaths than any other natural disaster in Australia.

In 2009 and again in 2014, major heatwaves impacted the Victorian community. In both instances, heatwaves resulted in significant loss of life, with an estimated 374 excess deaths in 2009 and 167 in 2014.

The combined costs of the heatwave in 2009, due to power outages, transport disruptions and responses, was estimated at $800 million.

Responding to climate change can lead to reductions in the burden of ill-health, enhance community resilience, and improve air quality by reducing pollution.

Community health and wellbeing in a changing climate

The Government has a number of initiatives and projects in place to support the community adapt to a changing climate.

The Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan is a whole-of-government plan that is coordinated and led by the Department of Health and Human Services.

It outlines the State Government's priorities to improve the health and wellbeing of all Victorians, and identifies the impacts from climate change through heatwaves, fires and long-term challenges to food security.

Air quality monitoring

EPA AirWatch is an online interactive map that provides Victorians a quick and reliable way to check local readings of air quality and obtain health advice on days when poor air quality is recorded.

This includes during emergencies such as bushfires, where rapid response air monitoring equipment will be deployed within 24 hours to provide hourly air quality measurements and health advice directly to EPA's website.

Working with the community

Sustainability Victoria (SV) is connecting with communities on climate change. SV is:

  • building partnerships and awareness across community sectors of climate change impacts and risks
  • outlining practical action communities can take in response to a changing climate
  • helping inform the development of transformational strategies and programs

Sustainability Victoria's online community platform (Climate Change Conversations) allows you to have your say on what a thriving and resilient future looks like.

Councils, climate change and community

Councils may face a variety of community health and wellbeing issues made more challenging by climate change. For example:

  • The expected increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heatwaves, bushfires and floods, may lead to an increased number of injuries and deaths.
  • Heatwaves can affect anybody, but some population groups are more at risk, especially those aged 65 years and over.
  • More frequent and intense flood and bushfire events could create challenges for council health and community services.
  • As local climates change, mosquitoes, diseases, pathogens and other pest species may begin spreading into new geographical areas, impacting the health of the local community.
  • A reduction in water availability in some regions may result in less watering of open spaces and sports grounds. Communities could face cancellations of sporting events or an increase in injuries because games are being played on harder surfaces. 

For more information about impacts of climate change on community health and wellbeing and councils, and how councils are responding, see the links on this page.

How councils are becoming climate ready

To view state government funded climate change projects delivered in partnership with local councils, click here

Department of Health and Human Services

DHHS, with the support of the Commonwealth Government, has commenced the Community Services Natural Disaster Resilience Program. The aim of the program is to help service providers plan for natural disasters, including building resilience and ensuring continued service delivery and client support in emergency situations.

Resilience is important to ensure continuous provision of services during emergencies and to support the community to recover from these events. The program provides a team of facilitators to work one-on-one, in place, with community sector organisations and local governments to develop resilience plans.

Rural City of Wangaratta: improving community resilience to climate change

The Rural City of Wangaratta's innovative "Rent Savers" and "Cooking Circles" programs are great examples of understanding the climate change impacts on vulnerable members of the community and identifying unique ways to improve their resilience.

 

Southern Grampians and Glenelg Primary Care Partnership

The Southern Grampians and Glenelg Primary Care Partnership works with 20 partner agencies to improve the health and well-being of their community. One of their strategic priorities is to reduce the impacts of climate change and the partnership is doing this through programs that address household energy efficiency, access to food and water, transport and social connection.