NOM 23/003 – Presented by Lei Parker, The Beagle editor
The Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) supports Councillor David Grace’s 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 in the future.
SHASA also strongly believes that the Eurobodalla Shire Council should also prepare a Heatwave Plan before the 20023/24 bushfire/heatwave season.
The anticipation of heat waves this summer has led to warnings from health experts that the return of heatwaves will almost certainly lead to an increase in hospitalisations and deaths. Hannah Mason, an associate lecturer at James Cook University’s School of Public Health study of hospital and ambulance data over 20 years found heatwaves increased the risk of death in Queensland by 5 per cent and increased ambulance call-out demand by more than 12 per cent.
The looming weather outlook has alarmed doctors so much that 100,000 medical practitioners penned a joint statement last week calling for more action and preparation for climate disasters.
A key goal of SHASA is to undertake practical projects to achieve a more resilient community in the Eurobodalla. As noted in my recent presentation to Council, over the last 4 years, SHASA has been working to establish a network of heatwave havens across the Eurobodalla as part of our Eurobodalla Haven Strategy. Using grant funding we have been running heatwave and bushfire haven projects to upgrade community-owned facilities with energy systems that can continue to operate when the mains power goes down and with temperature and air quality controls to deal with extreme heat and smoke. The two main benefits of these projects have been reduced ongoing operational costs for the community organisations who own these facilities and a safe refuge for the more vulnerable members of our community during extreme weather events.
To date SHASA has received funding for six havens, four of which have been completed and two are well underway:
- Anglican Parish Moruya Red Door Hall
- Moruya Pre School Kindergarten
- CWA Moruya
- CWA Narooma
- Úniting Church Batemans Bay (still to be completed)
- Tilba Halls (still to be completed)
The Anglican Parish Red Door Hall was the first haven to be completed. It was operational during the Black Summer Bushfires and it saved lives.
SHASA recently had a very successful opening for Stage 1 and 2 of the Uniting Church Haven on 4 August this year and there will be an opening for CWA Narooma Haven later this year in October or November.
In 2022 as part of our Eurobodalla Haven Strategy SHASA, in consultation with the owners of other community facilities and Council, developed detailed business cases for a further 17 havens. 11 of these were community-owned and 6 were Council-owned.
The South Durras Progress Hall, the Bodalla Memorial Hall, the Tomakin Community Hall, Kyla Park Hall at Tuross Head and Dalmeny Hall are all owned by Council and were included in SHASA’s Eurobodalla Haven Strategy because there are no suitable community-owned facility at these locations.
- the Bodalla Memorial Hall business case includes solar panels, battery storage and a generator, LED lighting, Hepa filters, air conditioning and a water tank (cost $119,500).
- the Dalmeny Community Hall business case includes solar panels, battery storage and a generator, LED lighting, Hepa filters and an EV charger (cost $48,300)
- the Durras Progress Hall, business case includes solar panels, battery storage and a generator, LED lighting, Hepa filters, air conditioning and an EV charger (cost $81,000).
- the Kyla Park Hall business case includes battery storage and a generator, Hepa filters and LED lighting (cost $54,400).
- the Tomakin Community Hall business case includes solar panels, battery storage, a generator, LED lighting, Hepa filters and a water tank (cost $55,820).
- The Malua Bay Community Centre business case includes solar panels, battery storage and a generator, LED lighting, Hepa filters and an EV charger (cost $64,100).
SHASA’s work to date provides a solid foundation for progressing the establishment of additional havens across the Eurobodalla and we are keen to collaborate with Council to submit a National Emergency Management Agency Disaster Ready Fund application to upgrade these Council halls so they can operate as heatwave as well as bushfire havens.
Reconstruction NSW has told SHASA that they see heatwave havens as a priority for the Eurobodalla and they are very supportive of our Eurobodalla Haven Strategy, but Council support and engagement is vital to secure funding to fully implement this strategy.
As stressed in my previous presentation to Council, we are now heading into a super El Nino and we have just had the driest June/July on record. Around the globe temperatures are soaring and crippling heatwaves have hit Asia, America and Europe. The impact of the coming summer’s heat on Australia is likely to be severe and we need to be prepared.
Given the seriousness and urgency of the situation, SHASA considers that an interim option Council may want to consider for this summer would be the use community clubs, as a means to bolster emergency preparedness for the coming season. A number of clubs in the Eurobodalla provided a network of impromptu evacuation hubs during the Black Summer fires. These clubs were far better serviced than the formal evacuation centres having seating, air conditioning, refrigeration, commercial kitchens and hygienic bathroom facilities. The ACT government has just introduced legislative changes to enable community clubs to open their doors as refuges to keep Canberrans safe during extreme heat and smoke events. SHASA therefore recommends that the Council engage in discussions with our clubs to see if they are willing to operate as heatwave havens and that Council also advocates to the NSW government to seek the legislative changes required to enable the clubs to do so.
We have seen across Europe and the US cooling centres being set up to help their communities survive the heat. Lets get these Council heatwave havens operational as soon as possible.