For emergency information, visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au.
For general information on heatwave, visit the Department of Health website.
The Council has adopted a heatwave plan that will help Benalla Rural City residents and visitors ahead of an anticipated rise in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves in Victoria.
Heatwaves cause more deaths in Australia every year than any other natural disaster, and have a greater negative impact on population health than any other natural hazard. The Victorian Government has asked local councils to develop heatwave plans to assist local communities prepare for and withstand prolonged periods of high temperatures.
The plan, an updated version based on the 2009 heatwave plan, has four stages: pre-summer preparation between April and November to ensure readiness for the summer period; during-summer preparation when information about heatwaves and cooler places will be disseminated to agencies and residents; the heatwave and health alert response, which includes the monitoring of vulnerable populations, the spread of further information and the establishment and promotion of cooler places if necessary; and the recovery and review phase.
The plan involves Council actions but also actions of other stakeholders such as the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, health providers, emergency services, schools, sporting bodies, aged care facilities and other services caring for the vulnerable.
“This plan is designed to outline the health, medical services and community actions and response arrangements to heatwave alerts,” said Veronica Schilling, General Manager Development and Environment. “It allows us to identify vulnerable groups in the community, to build the community’s resilience to this kind of natural hazard, and to change behaviour in the long term to protect people’s health and wellbeing. It also encourages community organisations such as sporting clubs, welfare agencies and others to develop their own heatwave action plans.”
Ms Schilling said that the Council’s actions to open up its facilities such as BPACC and the Senior Citizens’ Centre as cooler places during January 2014 was welcomed by the community, and demonstrated the value of having such a plan.
“People naturally look to the Council for assistance when they are experiencing difficulty through natural hazards, and the plan will assist us to be even better prepared when a heatwave strikes,” she said.
“We are especially concerned that we are able to look after the people who are most vulnerable to the effects of heatwave, which includes the elderly, the very young, people with a pre-existing medical condition, people with alcohol or drug addiction or mental health conditions, the homeless and those living in public housing.”
Cooler places within Benalla Rural City Council include the Benalla Aquatic Centre, the Benalla Performing Arts and Convention Centre, the Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop Learning Centre, Waminda Neighbourhood House, the Benalla Botanical Gardens, the Benalla Bowls Club, the Benalla Golf Club, and various restaurants, pubs and businesses throughout the rural city. Restrictions will apply to the availability of some of the private facilities, given operating hours and access arrangements.
When the predicted heat health alert will last greater than 48 hours Council will consider opening Benalla Performing Arts and Convention Centre to provide a cooler place for people, with seating and a television in the foyer, and a free family-friendly movie may be provided. The Benalla Senior Citizens Centre will also be opened according to demand. Residents, both within the township of Benalla and the rural areas who require transportation assistance to attend BPACC when it is opened as a cooper place can contact the Council for assistance on (03) 5760 2600.
More information on cooler places and heatwave, and the Benalla Rural City Council Heatwave Plan can be found at www.benalla.vic.gov.au. The Council will also use its Twitter account @BenallaRuralCit and media broadcasts to distribute information during summer.