Why Australian schools need a national policy on coping with heatwaves

Many parts of Australia have been experiencing a long-running heatwave, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees in some areas. So what impact is this having on schools? And is it time for the government to roll out a national policy on heat protection?

Research shows that extreme heat can result in physical (cardiovascular and thermoregulation), cognitive (acquiring and retaining information) and emotional difficulties (motivation and negative feelings towards set tasks). And let’s not forget ruined school lunches!

Currently, the main policy in place to protect students from outdoor weather extremes is the Cancer Council’s SunSmart program.

The SunSmart program has had a successful foundation policy for school staff and students to ensure enough shade is provided and to wear sun-protective clothing, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses for all outdoor activities when UV radiation is at level 3 or higher.

But there is no consistent educative policy across Australian schools for heat protection.

Many schools have site-specific or varying state guidelines. There is, however, little school policy relating to school activities during specific heat conditions (according to a set temperature and humidity).

Sometimes only a water fountain will do. Dan Peled/AAP

Originally Published by The Conversation, to continue reading click here.

Yea farmer building drones

Yea farmer Wayne Lording sits on his verandah, sips a cuppa and sends his drone to check the horses and cows.

A qualified helicopter pilot, Mr Lording is also building Australia’s first agriculture-specific drone.

‘‘Farmers have got to look at better and more cost-effective ways to manage their properties and drones are the best way to do it,’’ Mr Lording said on Thursday.

Mr Lording hopes to equip the $5000 drone with many small cameras and a small tank to spray weeds.

The Yea-based farmer often uses drones to check his cattle, saving time going out on horseback, by tractor, or car.

‘‘Sometimes I just sit on the back verandah having a cuppa. I’ll send the drone out to look at the water troughs and see if the horses are okay. That saves me a lot of time,’’ he said.

He is still looking at ways to extend the drone’s 30-minute flight time.

‘‘Flight times are the biggest problem for agriculturalists,’’ he said.

Originally Published by Country News, continue reading here.

Mental health and psychosocial impacts of climate change for rural Australians

Climate change is arguably the biggest global health threat of the 21st century (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2016). The safe limit for temperature increase is 1.5oC, but if we continue with business-as-usual, global temperature will rise between 3.7o and 4.8oC, with catastrophic consequences (IPCC, 2014). Already we see climate disruption around the globe which will certainly increase: unprecedented heatwaves, severe drought, bushfires, flooding of cities and land, major storms.

Climate change increases the severity or frequency of health problems already affected by weather factors, as well as creating unprecedented health problems in new places. Groups especially at risk include communities that rely on the natural environment for sustenance and livelihood, and populations living in areas most susceptible to extreme weather (Dodgen et al., 2016), like rural and regional communities in Australia.

Every impact of climate change, be it extreme weather devastating human settlements, changed rainfall and temperature reducing food security and land habitation, or ill health from shifting disease vectors, has flow-on effects on people’s psychological, social, and emotional wellbeing. Climate change is as much a psychological and social problem as an environmental catastrophe.

Climate change impacts on people’s mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in many ways. Many people are already experiencing emotions like anxiety, fear, despair and anger, and these feelings will intensify and spread as global average temperatures continue to rise and disrupt climate.  There is a significant risk of mental health problems like depression and PTSD following extreme weather events that are more frequent and intense with climate change.

Then there are the psychological impacts caused by climate change’s more gradual impacts, like sea level rise, changed  agricultural conditions, associated increases in food insecurity, changes in land use/habitation, associated increases in displaced people, ecosystem disruptions, greater wear and tear on infrastructure, associated increases in disruptions to transport, energy supply, and increases in cost of living. These all have flow-on effects on relationships, stress levels, substance use, family breakdown, reduced social participation etc (Clayton et al., 2014).

Understanding the psychological impacts of climate change is a crucial step in coming to terms with and then psychologically adapting to a climate-changed world and reality.

Dr Susie Burke PhD
Senior Psychologist, Public Interest, Environment and Disaster Response
Australian Psychological Society

Partnership Opportunities – 2017 ANZ Disaster & Emergency Management Conference

The 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held from 22 to 23 May at Jupiters Hotel on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

The Conference will allow your organisation to benefit significantly from constant exposure to an interested, relevant and influential audience in a relaxed environment, away from the distractions of their daily roles. With over 500 delegates expected, this is a great opportunity for you to promote your product or service to the leaders in the field.

2017 Conference Topics Include:

  • Technology and Operations
  • Multi-Agency Response
  • Understanding and Enhancing Resilience
  • Emerging Technology and Capability Needs
  • The Recovery Process
  • Crisis Leadership
  • Volunteers in Emergencies
  • Psycho-Social Implications of Disaster Management
  • International Response to Disasters
  • Consequence Management

Conference Sponsorship will connect your organisation with leading professionals and practitioners within the sector. Some of the benefits of sponsorship include:

  • Maintaining a high profile before, during and following the event.
  • Demonstrating your organisations commitment within the sector.
  • Consolidating corporate relationships and expose your staff to your key markets.
  • Enabling your organisations representatives to mix informally with industry professionals, leaders, local governance personnel, planners and speakers.
  • Sponsors and exhibitors have the opportunity to publish articles on our blog during the year.
  • Website advertising.
  • All Sponsors and Exhibitors are acknowledged and linked from the conference website for one year.

A vast range of sponsorship opportunities to enhance exposure of your business are now available. For more information on sponsorship or tailoring a package to meet your needs please visit the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference website. 

Discounts are also available to groups and those attending both the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference and the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference, which will run consecutively at the same venue.

 

 

 

 

Longer, hotter summers predicted in extreme weather report by Climate Council

Imagine a city where 265 days a year, the temperature rises above 35C.

The residents of Darwin in 2090 will not have to imagine it, because for them, it may well be their reality.

As Australians endure the summer of the seemingly never-ending heatwave, a new report from the Climate Council essentially has one message. Get used to it.

If the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, it’s going to get much worse. The independent research body predicts a rapid rise in extreme heat in Australia in the next 73 years, with heatwaves in all Australian capital cities predicted to start earlier and last longer as the effects of greenhouse gas emissions bite in the next decade.

According to the Climate Council’s Cranking up the Intensity: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events report, by 2030, the number of extremely hot days — classified as maximum temperatures of more than 35C — are tipped to climb in all capital cities.

But it is the Australia inhabited by this generation’s grandchildren, 2090, where the heat will really be on, if greenhouse gas emissions worldwide fail to meet current reduction targets. By that year the report predicts Darwin will have a staggering 265 days each year above 35C. The current average is 11.

The predictions are also frightening in other Australian cities.

A comparison of heatwaves in Australian cities from 1950 to 1980 and 1981 to 2011. .Source: Supplied

Brisbane is tipped to swelter through nearly two months of temperatures above 35C each year, well up on its current 12. In Sydney, the number is predicted to rise to 11 from the current three, while in Canberra, it is forecast to rise from seven to 29. In Melbourne, the number will go from 11 to 24, while Adelaide is predicted to rise from 20 to 47.  Over in the west, Perth’s extremely hot days are tipped to go from the current 28 to 63.

The projections are based on the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Should the Paris climate agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels be met by drastically cutting worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the report says the extreme weather events can be halted before then.

But it is a different story for the next couple of decades.

Continue reading here.

Applications to Present Closing Soon!

Back for it’s 6th consecutive year, the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference (ANZDMC) will return to Jupiters Hotel, Gold Coast from 22 – 23 May.

We invite you to exchange ideas and innovations at this conference as this will result in improved practices within our industry and ultimately on the ground. As a speaker you will also have the opportunity to have your full paper peer reviewed and included in the Book of Proceedings with an ISBN number.

Your abstract may address one of the following topics:

  • Technology and Operations
  • Multi-Agency Response
  • Understanding and Enhancing Resilience
  • Emerging Technology and Capability Needs
  • The Recovery Process
  • Crisis Leadership
  • Volunteers in Emergencies
  • Psycho-Social Implications of Disaster Management
  • International Response to Disasters
  • Consequence Management
  • Open Topic

Apply to present and register your spot for 2017 now at www.anzdmc.com.au  – APPLICATIONS TO PRESENT CLOSE MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2017!

Discounts are available to groups and those attending both the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference and the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference, which will run consecutively at the same venue.

Who Should Attend the Conference?

  • State Emergency Services
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Fire and Emergency Services
  • SES/Volunteer Organisations
  • Red Cross
  • Defence Force
  • University/ Educational Institutes/ Researchers/ Academics
  • Policymakers/ Government/ Local Government/ Councils
  • Emergency Services Managers
  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Health Services
  • Asset Managers/ Business Consultants
  • Planners/ Risk Assessors
  • Facility Managers (Aged Care, Hospitals)
  • Insurers/ Financial Institutions
  • Infrastructure/ Equipment Providers

We’re looking forward to another successful event in 2017 and we hope to see you there. If you would like further information on the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference please visit www.anzdmc.com.au.

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