Extreme heat days and heatwaves have significant economic and health impacts on the city. People living in the city are at greater risk during heat events as a result of the urban heat island effect, which shows that urban areas are 3 to 8 degrees Celsius warmer than rural areas.
During extreme heat events we can experience increases in heat-related illness, power outages, and disruption to transport services and outdoor events.
This is why we aim to turn Melbourne into a city that provides places of refuge for residents and visitors during extreme heat events. Local government plays an important role in reducing heat risks, including through community engagement, city greening, and the delivery of the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan. There are also many other organisations that influence how heat is experienced and managed in the municipality. Insights from this survey will inform our work as a local government, as well as our efforts to partner with other organisations, including state and federal government.
We have already started acting by:
- cooling the city through urban greening
- investing in projects like Greenline to provide a cool green corridor through the city
- helping people keep cool, through our Cool Routes online map and providing practical support during heatwaves.
- appointing a Chief Heat Officer to identify, develop, and implement heat resilient solutions.
All our efforts combined aim to cool Melbourne by four degrees, to improve liveability, resilience, and community health.
Now we want to hear from you about your heat health priorities, to help direct our actions for the next and future summers so we focus on the areas that will have the biggest impact for our community.
Known as the ‘silent killer’, extreme heat causes more fatalities in Australia than all other natural hazards combined.
Exposure to extreme heat impacts infrastructure, businesses, plants, animals and people, and can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death.
The 2014 Victorian heatwave contributed to 167 excess deaths and caused more than 600 hospitalisations.
Extreme heat also has a cumulative and cascading impact on city systems, causing:
- power failures
- public transport breakdowns
- reduced social use of public spaces and business
- stress on trees and other vegetation
- interruptions to some support services
- overstretching of health and emergency services, which can have additional detrimental effects on vulnerable people.
Research on the 2014 heatwave showed city businesses lost an estimated $37 million in revenue over the four days.
Creating a Heat safe city involves improving thermal comfort of the urban environment and preparing the community to respond to a heat event.
We can improve the thermal comfort of the city by implementing urban greening initiatives such as increasing our tree canopy, expanding our green spaces, retaining water in the urban environment, installing temporary shade structures, retrofitting buildings, and introducing sustainable building guidelines.
We can help prepare the community for heatwaves and to keep cool by providing practical support such as our ‘Cool Places’ maps and ‘Cool Routes’ tool, implementing our Heatwave Response Plan, and developing Neighbourhood Resilience Plans to respond to community needs and priorities.
The City of Melbourne has appointed Co-Directors Climate Change and City Resilience, Tiffany Crawford and Krista Milne, to the roles of Chief Heat Officers. They will provide local leadership and collaborate to deliver heat resilient solutions.
A significant part of the position is advocacy and championing heat action in Melbourne on behalf of the community.
The Chief Heat Officer position was established through the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) City Champions for Heat Action initiative (CCHA).
The City of Melbourne became a CCHA city in 2022 joining founding members in Monterray (Mexico), Miami-Dade County (USA), Athens (Greece), Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Santiago (Chile). The CCHA initiative seeks to achieve three things:
- put spotlight on the issue of extreme heat;
- develop tailor made solutions to address heat hazards; and,
- use champions to advocate for greater action.
Learn more about the Chief Heat Officers.
Local ‘hot spots’
What locations do you avoid on hot days? What it is about this spot that makes the location hot?
Users can drop a pin on the map and leave comments about that location.