Public Housing and Air Conditioning

Currently people living in public housing are not provided with air-conditioning as a matter of course. The Victorian Office of Housing does not take into consideration soaring temperatures in Mildura as a significant health related concern for their tenants. Further, current processes state the installation of air conditioning in public housing properties is the responsibility of the tenant. Demographic data of public housing tenants highlights the financial incapacity of families to be able to afford the cost of installing air conditioning in the residences.  13% of Mildura’ s population who rent are housing in public housing, compared to the Victorian average of 8.5% of tenants in public housing. The demographic of individual and families who reside in public housing includes single parent families (women and children), aged, disabled and Indigenous people (ABS Census, 2016).
 
According to the Bureau of Meteorology (2016) a snapshot of the past 6 years summers in Mildura demonstrates a trend of increasing extreme temperatures. This is highlighted in Table 1 below revealing a gradual increase in days over 43c.

Table 1.    
Summer 2011/12  Summer 2013/14 Summer 2015/16
26days over 34c  40 days over 34c 45 days over 34c

Anecdotal evidence currently exists from health and human service workers identifying spikes in attendance to Accident & Emergency, Domestic Violence, Drug and Alcohol and Mental Health Services for families living in public or social housing without air conditioning during the extreme heat of Mildura’ s summer period.
As a result Mallee Family Care has partnered with the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney to undertake a research and advocacy project to address this inequity. This research project is based on the hypothesis that significant changes in weather patterns resulting in prolonged extreme heat in Mildura negatively impacts on the social, health and well-being of families/individuals living in public housing. Public housing policy currently does not automatically provide air conditioning provisions within their accommodation.
Through our research we expect to evidence the detrimental impact that living in extreme heat without air conditioning has on people living in public housing and lobby State Government to change the ‘one size fits all’ policy.
Mallee Family Care are very grateful to have received funding from the Jack Brockhoff Foundation to enable us to commence this advocacy research with the support and partnership of the University of Sydney, School of Public Health.



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