From extreme weather to a carbon price: Are our most vulnerable people and communities prepared?

12 October 2010

A unique project launched by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is bringing the science of climate change down to earth and pointing out that our most vulnerable and marginalised citizens are among the most at risk from changes in Northern Australia’s climate and the solutions to carbon pollution that may raise costs.

To directly address the problem ACOSS in conjunction with Climate Risk Pty Ltd has launched a project to train community sector workers to identify climate change related risks and put in place plans for adaptation.

“When Katrina hit New Orleans we saw it was those who had the least resilience who were hit the hardest. The elderly, the poor, socially isolated.” said Tony Westmore, ACOSS senior policy officer. “To help vulnerable individuals and groups cope with climate change, we need to prepare and adapt organisations that care for their well-being.”

“We need to start planning. If there will be more heat waves there will be a greater demand for some services, such as emergency care for the house-bound or elderly. In extreme conditions such as days of bushfire risk, we may need a communications system to check that the vulnerable are alright.”

The problems are not confined to changes in weather and climate, as carbon pollution returns to the national policy agenda. Climate change and policy responses that affect energy prices, building codes, appliance and vehicle standards are guaranteed to affect low income households and community welfare services. Low income households will be affected first and worst, and they have relatively little capacity to cope, adapt or move.

“This project is ground-breaking because we are bringing climate change risk training techniques previously used exclusively within the insurance industry to help prepare community groups.” said Dr Karl Mallon, CEO of Climate Risk Pty Ltd.

The workshops in Northern Australia are part of a national program, and will include a day in Cairns on Wednesday 13 October and Darwin on Thursday 14 October. The workshops are open to any community sector organisation to attend, and are designed for staff, management and volunteers of not-for-profit organisations responsible for policy, strategic planning, service delivery and future-proofing.

ACOSS has engaged with the climate policy process to ensure that the needs of low income households and the community welfare sector are represented. The risks raised in the sessions are being collected and reported to ensure that policy makers understand the reality for the community sector.

The workshop facilitator, Dr Karl Mallon CEO of Climate Risk Pty Ltd has worked on climate and energy policy for twenty years. He specialises in both mitigation and adaptation and has worked closely with the not for profit sector.

Presented in association with Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) and Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) in partnership with Climate Risk Pty Ltd and Making Links.

Inquiries to Tony Westmore, ACOSS on 0419 256 339, [email protected]
and Karl Mallon, Climate Risk on 0412 25 75 21