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Climate change is a social justice issue. Increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves, bushfires, floods, storms and drought are disproportionally impacting communities with existing experiences of social, economic and health inequity. As an example, people with access to leafy green suburbs, air-conditioning and well-insulated housing have vastly different experiences of extreme heatwaves than people who don’t.

Community service and health organisations have an essential role to play in strengthening local resilience, yet the sector itself is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, risking service continuity and support for the communities they work with.

Our climate justice approach brings attention to the root causes of these intersecting inequities, and the actions required to shift them – including the critical work of community service and health organisations. The projects below aim to build resilience for people most at-risk to the localised impacts of climate change, through place-based, collaborative, and community-led responses.

A community-led approach to climate justice 

Funded by Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance  

Across the municipality of Melbourne, on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung country, heightened social and economic stressors are combining with extreme weather events (such as heatwaves) to disproportionately impact already vulnerable communities. From a climate justice perspective, this means ensuring climate action is driven by fair, equitable and inclusive processes that bring together a range of place-based stakeholders including local communities, community sector organisations, and local governments. 

The project

A community-led approach to climate justice was funded by the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance as a process and guide to enable deeper and more deliberative collaboration between local communities and local governments to address climate justice priorities. Developed over 12 months, the project was co-designed and supported by many place-based organisations and networks including the City of Melbourne, Jesuit Social Services’ Centre for Just Places, Kensington Neighbourhood House, Living Learning Australia, Transition Town Kensington, Unison and The Venny Inc. 

The impact

This project produced a guidance document for the City of Melbourne, service providers, practitioners, and community members looking to initiate deeper and more deliberative collaboration on climate justice projects in the municipality. It outlines a collaborative process to support diverse groups in embedding climate justice across a range of policies, programs and strategies, including learnings from piloting a food relocalisation initiative led by a neighbourhood network: the Kensington Community Local Fresh Food Market. Aligned with both local and international calls to action, what emerged from this two-phased process was the need for shared understandings, well-defined roles and responsibilities, and sustainable resourcing to collectively navigate the intersecting inequities that are being experienced in our neighbourhoods. 

For more information

Contact Katrina Dunn, Manager – Climate Justice, at to discuss this project. 

Building climate just and resilient communities: Workshop series for Councils and community services

Funded by Councils. Seed funding through a Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Community Climate Change Adaptation grant.

Community service organisations (CSOs) work on the frontline supporting people during extreme weather events and play a vital role in building long-term community resilience. But during these events, concerns for staff health and safety, power outages and transport delays can limit an organisation’s ability to support community members. Evidence also suggests that CSOs are not prepared for the ongoing and worsening disruptions to their services caused by extreme weather. This places the communities they support at even greater risk.

Councils must prepare and plan for climate risks to health and wellbeing. This is required in Victorian legislation, including a responsibility to minimise the impacts on those most at-risk. For example, in Victoria there is a legislated responsibility to minimise the impacts on those most at-risk. This means that Councils, together with community service CSOs, play a critical role in local climate adaptation and resilience planning. This requires councils to undertake collaborative processes and continuous learning to ensure strategies and services support just and resilient communities.

The series

The workshop series provides the foundations needed to work collaboratively to design and implement place-based approaches to building climate just and resilient communities. This includes the opportunity to strengthen cross-sectoral partnerships to enable greater inclusion of community voices in developing climate change plans and health and wellbeing programs and policies.

Over two half-day workshops, the Centre brings together Council representatives together with local CSOs, health organisations and emergency management. To date, the workshops have been implemented in five LGAs across Victoria.

The impact

The workshops support participants to develop a shared understanding of:

  • who is most at-risk to the localised impacts of climate change and why;
  • the roles and responsibilities of Council, community services, and emergency planners
  • the strengths, needs and opportunities for these diverse organisations in your area.

The workshops have opened channels for meaningful engagement with community members affected by extreme weather, which will help inform local government adaptation policies and programs. They have also inspired a network of neighbourhood houses to create a collaborative climate action and resilience plan.

Workshop participants receive practical resources to continue their work, including the Jesuit Social Services’ Climate and Ecological Justice Resource Pack. Participants report leaving the workshops with a deeper understanding of climate vulnerability and their responsibility to adapt.

For more information

If you are interested in learning more about the climate resilience workshops for the community sector or delivering the workshops in your local government area, download the workshop series flyer, or contact Jack Piper, Coordinator Climate Justice, at discuss this project.

Mobilising climate just and resilient communities in Melbourne’s west project (Sep 2021-Sep 2022)

Funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

The project

This project worked with community health and service organisations to strengthen climate resilience – focusing on services in Melbourne’s west, on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, Boon Wurrung, and Wathaurong country.

The Centre delivered this project in partnership with organisations supporting health and wellbeing in the local government areas of Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Melton, Wyndham and Hobson’s Bay. Partners include IPC Health, GenWest, Network West, VCOSS, Brimbank City Council, Melton City Council and Wyndham City Council, with stakeholder input from Hobsons Bay City Council and the Victorian Department of Health.

The impact

This project was a first step towards shared action to build climate resilience in Melbourne’s west by supporting community health and community service organisations (and other organisations which support health and wellbeing in Melbourne’s west), to increase their understanding of:

  • Key health, service and climate change networks
  • Shared climate change risks, vulnerabilities, strengths and needs.

This work helped identify shared priorities and opportunities to collaborate and mobilise climate justice (fairer outcomes as our climate continues to change) and community resilience in Melbourne’s west. As result of this year-long project, the Centre developed a Collaborative Action Plan, which articulates a shared vision for climate justice in Melbourne’s west.

Cover of Collaborative Action Plan

The Collaborative Action Plan articulates a shared vision for climate justice in Melbourne's west.

For more information

If your work supports health and wellbeing in the west of Melbourne (even if it doesn’t directly engage with climate change), and you want to discuss involvement with this project, contact Katrina Dunn, Manager Climate Justice, at

Learn more about the Collaborative Action Plan

Climate resilience and fuel poverty project (May 2021-April 2022)

Funded by Darebin City Council.

This project is responding to Darebin City Council’s need to better understand the inequitable impacts of extreme weather and fuel poverty (when a household can’t afford the heating and cooling services it needs) across the Darebin community, on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country. This work builds on the trusted relationships developed with Darebin community service organisations through the Centre’s Building Climate Resilience in the Community Sector workshops in May 2021.

The project

The Centre is engaging three priority communities in Darebin – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, culturally and linguistically diverse community members, and those aged 65 years and over – to identify their needs and priorities in understanding and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Through existing services and community spaces, this project facilitates conversations with diverse community groups about their lived experience of extreme weather, such heatwaves and storms.

The impact

This project will facilitate community-led solutions which draw on Darebin’s climate risks, vulnerabilities and strengths. Darebin City Council will use the stories gathered through this work to inform areas for focus in future adaptation programs and its next Climate Emergency Strategy.

For more information

Contact Jack Piper, Coordinator – Climate Justice, at to discuss this project.

Co-designing a climate action and resilience framework for neighbourhood houses project (Darebin neighbourhood houses network) (October 2021-June 2022)

Funded by the Department Environment Land Water and Planning, Victorian Government.

Neighbourhood houses hold deep relationships in the communities they serve. These relationships, knowledge of community strengths and vulnerabilities, and capacity to respond to community needs, present an opportunity for neighbourhood houses to lead climate action and adaptation in their communities.

The project

The Centre supported a network of six neighbourhood houses to develop a climate action and resilience plan, while co-creating a framework to guide strategic action planning and advocacy for networks of neighbourhood houses across Victoria and nationally.

The impact

No similar framework currently exists for neighbourhood houses. The framework will empower networks of neighbourhood houses to identify opportunities and advocacy priorities to take climate action and build the resilience of their organisations and the wider community.

For more information

Contact Jack Piper, Coordinator – Climate Justice, at to discuss this project.

Learn more about the Guidance document and supporting resources

Understanding and planning for the health and wellbeing impacts of climate change in Greater Dandenong and the Mornington Peninsula Shire project (completed in 2021)

Funded by Mornington Peninsula Shire and Greater Dandenong City Council.

Climate change has significant impacts and implications for our health and wellbeing, both in direct ways (for example, through the impact of heat), and in less direct ways (for example, through impacts on our mental health). These impacts will not be felt evenly across society and risk entrenching existing health inequities. We need to proactively plan for the disproportionate impact on already marginalised and disadvantaged people.

The project

This project – a partnership between City of Greater Dandenong, Mornington Peninsula Shire, the Australian Urban Observatory and the Centre for Just Places – brought researchers and health professionals together to begin integrating climate adaptation into public health planning in the two locations on Boon Wurrung country.

The impact

This project profiled health and climate risks for residents, identified a shared indicator framework for vulnerability to climate change impacts, mapped roles and responsibilities for planning, and developed recommendations to respond to the local risks and impacts of our changing climate on health and wellbeing.

We also worked to bring departments in council together to think about their shared role in planning for climate change’s impact on health and wellbeing, and engaged external stakeholders within community service organisations and health providers to inform the priorities and recommendations identified.

For more information

Contact Katrina Dunn, Manager Climate Justice, at to discuss this project.