Benalla Rural City - 15 December: Council releases heatwave plan in time for summer
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 News>15 December: Council releases heatwave plan in time for summer  
15 December: Council releases heatwave plan in time for summer  Printer Friendly

For emergency information, visit

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 The Council will also use its Twitter account @BenallaRuralCit and media broadcasts to distribute information during summer.

Fast Facts About Heatwave
 In January 2009, Victoria experienced a prolonged State-wide heatwave with temperatures among the highest ever recorded in the State. A report by the Chief Health Officer has calculated that there were an additional 374 deaths in Victoria for the week of 26 January to 1 February 2009 due to these severe conditions.
 In January 2014, one of southeast Australia's most significant heatwaves occurred, with periods of extreme temperatures and prolonged heat during both the day and night.
 In Victoria, the State wide average maximum temperature exceeded 41°C on four successive days from 14 to 17 January 2014 (Table 2), surpassing the record of three successive days set in 2009.
 A heatwave is a period of extremely hot and uncomfortable weather, which impacts adversely on the health and wellbeing of the community. They can result in significant harm to human health and welfare, infrastructure and services.
 Heatwaves can affect anybody, including the young and healthy. There are certain population groups which are more at risk than others, including the elderly, infants, infants and young children, people with a disability, people with a pre-existing medical condition and people who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Other groups at risk from a heatwave include people who are overweight, people who over-exert themselves during work or exercise, and people confined to a bed and unable to care for themselves.
 As temperatures rise, so does the risk of developing a heat related illness, a medical condition that results from the body’s inability to cope with heat and cool itself. If left untreated, a heat related illness can lead to serious complications, even death.
 Most serious problems stemming from heat related illnesses can be avoided however if detected and treated early.

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