Page 4119 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 December 2022

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activated during extreme heat events which are of such a nature that a coordinated whole-of-ACT-government response is required. The purpose of the ACT Extreme Heat Plan is to protect the community by promoting individual and community resilience and adaptation to extreme heat conditions through the delivery of a planned, managed and effective whole-of-government response.

The central focus of the Extreme Heat Plan is to enable and enhance resilience to extreme heat events for at-risk populations, the broader ACT community and organisations, through the implementation of adaptive strategies. Exposure to prolonged heat stress can exacerbate existing health conditions and the risk of death, particularly amongst vulnerable cohorts. This may be mitigated through individuals seeking respite from the heat in clubs if their own homes are not able to be appropriately cooled. Many clubs have longer than usual operating hours which support their ability to provide a space for community members to attend for respite.

While this bill focuses on the declaration of clubs as refuges during an emergency or other hazard, it is important to recognise that other venue options are available to the community during extreme weather events. Community clubs are only one option from a range of other community facilities which include libraries, child and family centres and community centres. Club refuges will form part of the other ACT government supports already provided to community members during extended exposure to hazardous smoke and extreme heat.

In recent years where heatwaves and/or smoke have been present, a range of different support measures have been in place. For example, within the Community Services Directorate, Housing ACT conducts heatwave checks with vulnerable residents. Additionally, I note that our community recovery partners, such as Anglicare, Red Cross, Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul, play an important social role in passing on public messaging to rough sleepers during such weather events.

This bill makes improvements which are compatible with and promote human rights by including clubs as a place of respite for community members, which may reduce health risks if such an event were to occur. In particular, the amendments support the right to life by seeking to enhance the availability of basic needs such as shelter and water by allowing clubs to be accessible by the ACT community during a potentially life-threatening emergency.

Heatwaves kill more Australians than any other natural disaster. In fact, heat stress can exacerbate existing health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. This bill makes important amendments to enable the use of clubs as refuges by the community during an emergency or other hazard, as part of a range of measures undertaken by the government to mitigate risk. The bill increases the availability of safe spaces for the community to access during extreme heat and smoke events in the ACT. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Parton) adjourned to the next sitting.

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