A call for collaborative action on climate justice in Melbourne’s west

 This month, Jesuit Social Services’ Centre for Just Places launched its Collaborative Action Plan, articulating a shared vision for climate justice in the west of Melbourne.

The co-designed Plan is the result of a year-long project which brought together over 44 community health and service organisations and local stakeholders to identify where community health and service organisations and communities are currently connected, what is needed to strengthen those connections, and collaboration and action required to support community members at greatest risk of climate change impacts in Melbourne’s west.

The Plan makes clear that climate inequity is a real and lived reality in Melbourne’s west, and seeks to explore what mobilising climate justice means for communities and community sector organisations in the region.

Community organisations are working on the frontline with people experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage, but they themselves are impacted by compounding and cascading events such as heatwaves and rising cost-of-living pressures – resulting in service disruptions, impacts on staff, and surges in demand for services – and raising the risk of flow-on effects for the communities they support.

The Plan was launched with an online panel discussion featuring an overview of the project’s findings and speakers who shared how this process of collaboration is being used to advocate for, and take action on, climate justice in Melbourne’s west.

In the community sector, spending time on climate change can be quite rare. Budgets are stretched so thin and resources are so tight…. That was something special about this project.


Ben Latham

Victorian Council of Social Service

Jesuit Social Services’ CEO, Julie Edwards, told attendees that the Plan demonstrates that “there is a clear call from the community sector for the need for appropriate and sustained resourcing to reflect climate justice as increasingly becoming a core part of all of our work.”

Heat, for example, is an ongoing issue exacerbated by poor-quality housing, limited access to affordable cooling systems, and limited urban greenspace and canopy cover. Centre for Just Places’ Executive Director Susie Moloney told the audience, “We know that climate impacts and heat are not experienced evenly across communities. Local government areas particularly in the west are often experiencing temperatures 9-11 degrees hotter than other urban areas.”

This inequity has consequences for health and wellbeing outcomes and needs in a region that is rapidly growing and diversifying, and where demand for adequate infrastructure and services is outpacing provision.

Panellists echoed the Plan’s call for action on the drivers of climate vulnerability for community health and service organisations and the communities they work with. Tess Stewart-Moore, from GenWest, told the audience, “Without addressing the social determinants of health, climate justice isn’t possible.”

The Plan highlights a number of barriers to building place-based climate adaptation and resilience – among them, resourcing to implement legislative, policy and practice frameworks, workforce capacity building, and strengthening pathways for community service and health organisations to inform government decision-making.

Panellist Ben Latham, from VCOSS, told the audience, “In the community sector, spending time on climate change can be quite rare. Budgets are stretched so thin and resources are so tight…. That was something special about this project.”

Melissa Grimes, from Melton City Council, commented that the project raised “the need for an authorising environment for this kind of collaboration” on climate justice issues.

The Plan identifies focus areas to guide future work on climate justice in Melbourne’s west. If collectively owned and applied across the region, the framework communicated in the Plan is intended to support the many diverse actors striving for transformative change in the west, as a foundation for the critical conversations required for achieving systemic change.

 

Watch the webinar

Screenshot of launch webinar

The Centre for Just Places was established by Jesuit Social Services in 2021, with seed funding from the Gandel Foundation and Victorian Government. This project was funded and supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. Our project partners included: IPC Health, GenWest, Network West Inc, Victorian Council of Social Service, Brimbank City Council, City of Melton, Hobsons Bay City Council, and Wyndham City. Stakeholder input was provided by the Victorian Department of Health.

2023 Annual Dinner

Please join us for our Annual Dinner on 25 March 2023.