Residents gather in Campbelltown to discuss rising temperatures in SW Sydney

On the 2nd of May 2021, twenty-five people gathered in Campbelltown for the Sweltering Cities South West Sydney community meeting. The passionate residents shared their great vision for a liveable, healthy, sustainable and equitable local community. They discussed the biggest challenges that come from living in hot suburbs with rising temperatures, as well as the solutions they feel best meet the community’s needs.

Residents sharing challenges and solutions

The biggest issues related to extreme heat and rising temperatures locally were: 

  • Transport. Many people were frustrated that South West Sydney still has to deal with old hot trains and bus stops without shelters. People discussed the health impacts of having to stand in the sun to wait for a bus without shelter or a seat. There is also too much air pollution from cars and trucks. 
  • Housing. Hot homes are a big health risk. We need higher standards for energy efficiency and passive cooling so people don’t have to rely on air conditioning. 
  • Not enough support for the most vulnerable. Heat impacts the elderly, people with disabilities, people with health conditions and poorer people. We aren’t doing enough to make sure people are safe during heatwaves. 
  • Unsustainable or bad planning resulting in more urban heat islands that are dangerously hot in summer. Dark surfaces, concrete and treeless streets are increasing temperatures. 
  • There are big impacts on the natural environment, including our lakes and rivers, native animals and green spaces. There is too much deforestation. 
  • It’s difficult for the community to contribute to building a better suburb. Many participants said that they had contributed to many government consultations but don’t feel listened to. They want to participate in sustainable development but feel shut out.
  • Schools are too hot and under resourced. Kids struggle to learn in hot classrooms and some areas are impacted much more than others.
Solutions include reforming the legal system to make it fairer

The solutions the community propose are: 

  • A planning system that creates liveable, green, and nice suburbs that people can be proud of. People should be able to have a voice in the planning process. 
  • A transportation system that supports all residents. People want green transportation that won’t contribute to air pollution. 
  • The environment and the community should be put first. 
  • Bus shelters and cool trains should be mandatory. 
  • Sustainable principles for development that include low pollution, access to water, trees and green space, and local jobs. 
  • Better funding for schools for cool buildings, play and learning spaces. 
  • Invest in technology for renewable energy powered transport and homes. 
  • Health services to support people who struggle in the heat. 
  • Climate action to stop rising temperatures. 
  • More trees!
  • Transparency in the use of public funds and the government approval process.

We think that when decision makers are looking for ways to mitigate and adapt to rising temperatures they should start with these great ideas. The next steps are for us to continue working together for a more equitable and sustainable planning system, climate action and funding to support communities in our hottest suburbs. We’re going to take these challenges and solutions to the candidates in the upcoming NSW Local Government election, and to the NSW Planning Minister. Representatives will hear first hand about the community health impacts of rising temperatures and urban heat islands.

SMH: Sydneysiders using unconventional methods to cool down

By Andrew Taylor March 8, 2021

“Almost one-third of Sydney residents leave their homes to cool down during hot weather, while 55 per cent of people do not turn on their airconditioners because of the cost of energy bills.

A survey of how people cope with hot weather found nearly half of all apartment dwellers leave their homes for a cooler location such as a shopping centre, cinema or library, compared to 27 per cent of people who live in houses.

The survey conducted by the community-based Sweltering Cities found 62 per cent of people aged 25-34 did not turn on airconditioning at home because of concerns about cost.

Amanda Forbes lives in a three-level townhouse in North Parramatta with her husband Jake, daughter Harriet and brother Grant.

Ms Forbes said it was difficult to cool her home because there was so much open space and no awning over the back sliding doors meant “the sun just directly pours into the house”.

“The vertical blinds which most renters would be familiar with do nothing in terms of reducing the amount of heat that can come into the house,” she said.”

SMH: ‘I wrapped myself in a damp towel’: Sydneysiders risk health inside hot homes

By Andrew Taylor January 24, 2021 — 12.00am

“Some Sydney residents are living in homes with room temperatures nudging 40 degrees, as climate change raises temperatures and fear of big energy bills stops people from cooling down.

study of indoor air temperatures in Sydney homes found 51 per cent of residents surveyed in the summer of 2018-19 felt “uncomfortably hot”.”

“Emma Bacon, founder of community group Sweltering Cities, said homes in Sydney had not been built to deal with the rising temperatures caused by climate change.

“Too many houses in Australia haven’t been built to keep cool without aircon in the extreme heat of our summers,” she said.

“They aren’t insulated well enough, or aren’t designed to take advantage of cross breeze, have dark surfaces that attract and absorb heat, or don’t have trees to provide shade or cool the land around the house.

“You’ll see new suburbs with houses barely metres apart with almost no eaves.”

Corrie Diamond said she was “dreading” the summer after a couple of days of hot weather last month left her in discomfort and unable to sleep.

“I wrapped myself in a damp towel with ice cubes,” she said. “This helped for a little bit, but I was melting and felt really uncomfortable.””

Read More

ABC: Heatwaves may mean Sydney is too hot for people to live in ‘within decades’

Sunday 24 January 2021

“Parts of Victoria and NSW are sweating through an extreme heatwave that started sweeping across Australia’s southeast on Saturday.

This may seem like just a good excuse to go to the beach, but as the planet warms and summers become longer and less bearable, heatwaves are coming to represent an existential threat to Australian suburbs.

Already, heat kills more people in Australia than any other natural disaster, including floods, cyclones and bushfires.

Now, faced with the prospect of 50-degree-plus summers, experts say highly urbanised parts of Australia may become unliveable within decades.

The race is on to re-imagine, redesign and rebuild the Australian suburb.”

“A project called Sweltering Cities is surveying residents to hear what it’s like to live, work and travel around Western Sydney on days of extreme heat.

The responses so far paint a scary picture, says Emma Bacon, who’s running the survey.

“The amount of people who use the word ‘dread’ with me about summer is shocking,” she says.

“Overwhelmingly, they’re saying political parties should have policies to address the heat in the city.””

Read More

Campbelltown Community Meeting: Survey report back and local issue discussion

There was a huge response to the Sweltering Cities community survey from South West Sydney. Please join us and community members from across the South West to discuss heat issues, hear the results of the survey, and to take the first steps in winning cooler communities together.

2pm May 2nd

Campbelltown Arts Centre, Art Gallery Rd Campbelltown.