Extreme heat and poor air quality can be uncomfortable and dangerous for many Victorians. But for people experiencing homelessness – including those rough sleeping or living in inadequate accommodation – it can be particularly difficult to avoid the impacts of harsh conditions.
With a number of areas in Victoria affected by extreme heat or poor air quality due to smoke from the bushfires, CHP is underlining the importance of offering people without a home sufficient protection in the short and long term.
If you know of a service or resource for people without a home to access during periods of extreme heat or poor air quality, please contact [email protected] for inclusion in this post.
Immediate relief from extreme conditions
The City of Melbourne is running its extreme weather program, designed to provide relief for people experiencing homelessness or disadvantage by offering free access to swimming pools and free cinema passes. Learn more about the plan here.
The Salvation Army Café at 69 Bourke Street offers a place for those seeking relief from the heat during the daytime in inner city Melbourne.
Cooling centres are places where people without adequate shelter can find respite in extreme conditions. Many local councils will coordinate specific cooling centres in their area, details of which can often be found on the local council website or by getting in touch directly. Find details for your local council here: knowyourcouncil.vic.gov.au/councils.
To locate cooling centres around inner Melbourne, check the following maps:
Other spaces that may offer shelter include public spaces such as libraries, shopping centres, or community centres.
Local councils across Victoria typically have plans in place to support people experiencing homelessness during extreme weather events. To check which measures are available, including any eligibility requirements, it’s best to contact your local council directly.
EPA AirWatch: The Environment Protection Authority displays information about Victoria’s air quality, including interactive maps and air quality forecast. It may be useful to check air quality forecasts and to take action / plan if necessary.
Vic Health: Learn more about the impact of heatwaves on health with the Department of Health’s Heatwave Plan for Victoria.
YDAS: The Youth Disability Advocacy Service has released resources for Victorians with disability who are impacted by the bushfires.
If you require immediate expert health advice from a registered nurse, NURSE-ON-CALL can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 60 60 24. For life-threatening emergencies, call 000.
Disaster-specific legal support
The legal assistance sector across Australia is working on coordinated responses to the bushfires. While these arrangements are being finalised, some points of contact include:
Disaster Legal Help Victoria help line 1800 113 432. More information is available at www.disasterlegalhelp.org.au
To refer someone affected by bushfires for legal assistance, consider Legal Aid. Where Legal Aid is unable to assist, Justice Connect may be able to provide help pro bono via this dedicated online referral pathway (designed for use by legal aid workers, community workers, legal professionals): justiceconnect.org.au/refer/. More information on the best contact points for people needing legal help will be released when available.