2 September 2013 — Weather events and climate change will severely impact the service delivery and operations of many primary health and community service organisations,  a report by the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research has found.

The report found that very few organisations were prepared for more intense and more frequent heatwaves and bushfires and other events linked to climate change.

Chief investigator Hartmut Funfgeld said the tertiary impacts of climate change on community service delivery had not been well understood, but the ramifications on human lives were huge.

The study shows that hundreds of community service organisations in Victoria will need to adapt to the impacts of climate change if they are to maintain the level and quality of community services they provide to socially and economically disadvantaged people, which are directly dependent on the agencies’ support.

“Without such changes people’s health will be at risk due to breakdowns in service delivery,” Mr Funfgeld said.

Researchers from RMIT and Monash universities worked with primary health and community service organisations around Victoria to better understand how their work was affected by a changing climate and extreme weather events and to support them in getting their organisations ready for climate change.

According to the report:

  • There are irrefutable links between climate change, human health, and community well-being
  • Perspectives from the primary health and community service sector in Victoria, obtained through over 70 interviews conducted across the state
  • The significant vulnerability of community service providers to climate change impacts, and the potential negative consequences for their clients, many of whom are already disadvantaged
  • These organisations require support now to increase their capacity to deal with current and future climate change impacts.

The report is available here.