Sunday, February 25, 2024

Project to beat ‘silent killer’ wins enviro award

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has won the ‘Climate Change Adaptation’ category of the 2022 Excellence in the Environment Awards for its ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ project.

Presented by Local Government NSW (LGNSW), the Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in managing and protecting the environment in local government areas.

The ‘Climate Change Adaptation’ category specifically acknowledges outstanding initiatives undertaken to address climate change risks and vulnerabilities.

WSROC’s ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ project, supported by Resilience NSW’s Community Resilience Innovation Program, brings together local councils, government agencies and community service providers to build understanding of heatwave risks, and what all partners can do to build community resilience, and improve community resilience to heat.

“The ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ project looks at what processes and structures are needed for the city to manage to heatwave emergencies, with a focus on how we can support our most vulnerable,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“Heat is responsible for 60% of Australia’s natural hazard-related deaths. So, more deadly than fires, floods or storms combined.

“Despite this, many people underestimate the dangers of heat,” he said.

“Greater Western Sydney is particularly susceptible. We experience more extreme heat than other areas of Sydney and have greater numbers of vulnerable individuals due to higher levels of chronic disease, an aging population, and pockets of socio-economic disadvantage.”

“The aim of ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ is to improve the region’s resilience to heatwaves through a combination of cross-sector collaboration, upskilling front-line staff and community education,” said Councillor Calvert.

The ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ project has two key components:

  • Governance and policy improvement: Based on extensive consultation with regional stakeholders, the Heat Smart Resilience Framework outlines recommendations for improved heatwave management.
  • Community resilience building: A range of resources have been developed to ensure communities and frontline council, government agency and community services staff have the knowledge and tools needed to successfully manage heat risks.

“The ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ resources were developed with communities and local organisations across the Greater Western Sydney region in partnership with councils and the Western Sydney Local Health District.

“Heat is often called the ‘silent killer’ because when the weather heats up, we retreat into our air-conditioned homes, leaving vulnerable individuals isolated and at risk,” said Cr Calvert.

Heat Smart Western Sydney is being delivered in partnership with the Western Sydney Local Health District, and six local councils — Blacktown, Cumberland, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith City Councils.

The program delivers on priority actions identified under WSROC’s Turn Down the Heat Strategy.

For more info about ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney: bit.ly/HeatSmart_WesternSydney.

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