Blacktown City Council in Sydney’s western suburbs has been preparing for the expected increased impacts of extreme heat due to climate change, local geography, the urban heat island effect and rapid population growth. 

Water Technology supported Blacktown City Council with the development of an Extreme Heat Strategy which was based on the five components of disaster risk reduction as advocated by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 and Australia’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework: (1) Risk assessment; (2) Early warning systems; (3) Emergency management planning; (4) Evacuation centres; and (5) Community participation.

A risk assessment was conducted to identify the areas most vulnerable to heatwaves, including the populations that may not have access to air conditioning.  This analysis identified high-risk parts of the Local Government Area to which the establishment of heat refuges (or cool centres) should be prioritised.



Develop an Extreme Heat Strategy that can be implemented by the Council to enable effective response in the event of a heat related emergency


Blacktown Local Government Area


Blacktown City Council

An Emergency Management Plan was developed to cover actions required in the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery phases of a heat related emergency. A structured identification and assessment process delivered a shortlist of potential locations for heat refuges (or cool centres) in the region.

The community participation component of the strategy development involved interviews with 36 community service providers which confirmed strong support for the heat refuge concept and enabled identification of several opportunities for heat refuges, transport services and volunteers.

Aspects of the Extreme Heat Strategy were trialed during the Summer of 2021–22 and the Strategy was finalised based on evaluation of these trials.

The work undertaken to develop the Strategy is described in an article in the Australian Journal of Emergency Management:

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