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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Presentation to Council 15/08/2023 in support of NOM23/003 Heat Havens

Presentation to Council 15/08/2023 in support of NOM23/003 Heat Havens

Urgent Action Needed: Protecting Vulnerable Demographics from Heat Risk

By Dr Michelle Hamrosi



Responsible Officer: David Grace - Councillor

Attachments: Nil

Councillor David Grace has given notice that at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 15 August 2023, he will move the following motion.


THAT a report be prepared for consideration by Council at its 21 November 2023 meeting on the need and suitability of council public facilities, including public halls, to be used as heat havens. The report is to provide discussion on options, costs, possible funding sources, and what facilities could be reasonably made available as heat havens for the future.

Good morning Mayor, Councillors, General manager and executive members of council. Thank you to Councillor Grace for the motion NOM23/003 HEAT HAVENS that you have brought to council today.

As you know I am a GP, and the Community Engagement Officer for the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Community Protection for Infants and Young Children in Bushfire Project.

Heat poses significant health risks to both infants and pregnant women. Infants, with their underdeveloped thermoregulatory systems, are highly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even life-threatening heatstroke. Additionally, pregnant women are at an increased risk to overheating due to hormonal changes and increased metabolic rate during pregnancy. Heat stress in pregnant women can result in complications such as preterm labor, dehydration, and gestational hypertension. Moreover, excessive heat can contribute to an elevated core body temperature, potentially impacting foetal development and increasing the risk of birth defects.

Why does this matter for us?

All major health and medical organisations today recognise that the rapidly warming climate is the greatest threat to global public health. During Earth’s hottest month on record, last month, António Guterres the U.N. chief issued a stark warning: “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”

We cannot ignore these clear and increasingly urgent warnings.

In my work, I regularly encounter impoverished families within our local community. A substantial number of these households reside in socially challenged accommodations, characterised by inadequate airflow, absence of air conditioning or cooling mechanisms, and constrained avenues of transportation. Among them, certain individuals find themselves unhoused, ensnared within the harrowing cycle of domestic abuse, or grappling with the burden of mental afflictions. We know that climate change disproportionately affects these populations, exacerbating existing socio-economic disparities and increasing their exposure to extreme weather events and health risks.

I urge the council to review the suitability of our public facilities, such as community halls, as potential heat havens, emphasising the importance of designating a specific venue or space that is tailored to the requirements of families and caregivers with infants. When assessing suitability for evacuation centres, the unique needs of young children should guide part of the evaluation process. This should include assessing the presence of child-friendly areas or dedicated spaces for families with infants, as well as scrutinising safety elements like road access, gates, stairs, and balconies. Our project is happy to provide evaluation checklists that can specifically help in this process.

Furthermore, I emphasise the immediate need for collaboration between the council and pertinent agencies to effectively communicate up-to-date and tailored emergency information to diverse vulnerable demographics. My team is currently in the final phases of crafting targeted health advisory resources, specifically tailored for very young children and expectant mothers in the context of heatwaves. We are eager to share these resources with you. Our assessment reveals that existing messaging tends to be overly general, and if extrapolated to the context of infants, could inadvertently pose risks.

Lastly, I invite you to extend the scope of your motion today to encompass the development of a comprehensive heatwave plan by the council. This strategic initiative will guarantee a thoughtful, all-encompassing, and integrated response. The Victorian state government has created resources to help local councils do this. Many councils across Victoria and now rolling out their own heatwave plans.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to emphasise the importance of mitigating the health risks associated with heat, particularly for our most vulnerable demographics – infants and pregnant women. By designating public facilities as heat havens, tailoring emergency communications for these groups, and formulating a comprehensive heatwave plan, we demonstrate our proactive stance in addressing this critical issue. Thank you for your consideration and dedication to a resilient and healthier future.


Washington Post, “We are living through Earth’s hottest month on record, scientists say” published July 20th 2023

Direct link to pdf:


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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