WSLHD focuses on the ‘human stories’ of heat in western Sydney at the Greater Sydney Heat Taskforce

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) recently joined 39 other organisations at the Greater Sydney Heat Taskforce workshop, bringing to life the vision of a Greater Sydney where people can thrive in a warming climate and survive extreme heat events.

Centre for Population Health’s (CPH) Public Health Unit Director, Dr Catherine Bateman, represented WSLHD at the workshop where actions around building a community resilience response to heat was discussed.

Catherine described the gathering as an energetic, engaged group which included key stakeholders such as state agencies, local government, industry and community organisations.

“There was a strong focus on actions that can be taken and how stakeholders can support each other and enhance each other’s contributions,” she said.

The process was grounded in a sense of the people affected by heat and how we need to work to improve the lives of everyone in Sydney – and particularly those that are disproportionately affected or less able to protect themselves.

Dr Catherine Bateman

The Greater Sydney Heat Taskforce was established in 2023 by the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) to provide governance and strategic guidance to facilitate a place-based community resilience response to heat.

The Taskforce is leading the co-design of a coordinated Heat Smart City Plan that outlines a five-year approach to reduce risk and build heat resilience.

It will support the formal NSW emergency arrangements for heatwaves.

We’ve been able to provide a local health perspective from a District that is particularly impacted by heat. The Taskforce will be particularly important for people in western Sydney.

Dr Catherine Bateman

“Our Centre for Population Health team at WSLHD has contributed to different parts of the Taskforce, including heat communications, developing heat risk assessment tools, heat emergency management and overarching heat planning strategies,” Catherine said.

“Taskforce meetings often refer to human stories of disruption and struggle created by heat in western Sydney.

“The actions generated and the connections between WSLHD and councils, local organisations, community groups and academic partners, will strengthen our capacity to respond effectively to the impacts of heat on health.

“We can lead by example and show the world how to manage and adapt to extreme weather.”

For tips to prepare for hot days and staying well visit: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/beattheheat/Pages/default.asp

The Taskforce is a program under the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF) jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments.