Feeling the Heat

Extreme heat kills more Australians than any other form of natural disaster, and people experiencing disadvantage are the most impacted.

For some people a heatwave means blasting an air-conditioner all day or taking a dip at the local pool. For others, it means physical sickness, mental illness, financial hardship, family violence, social isolation, and being cut off from essential services. People are more vulnerable to heat if they:

  • Are young or older
  • Can’t afford air-conditioning or a car
  • have arrived in Victoria recently or don’t speak English
  • Live in a rental home or public housing
  • Sleep rough (homeless)
  • Are pregnant or experiencing family violence
  • Work outside or have an insecure job
  • Have a disability or health condition

Community services organisations are instrumental in helping people cope and keep cool.

They open up air-conditioned offices for people to shelter, call vulnerable clients to check on their welfare, and provide advice to clients about thermal comfort and energy usage. Organisations are rarely funded for this critical work.

  • Full report    PDF  |  DOC
  • Summary ‘snapshot’    PDF  |  DOC

 Watch all videos
 Launch event recording

More than 600 Victorians were hospitalised by the 2014 heatwave.
The number of very hot days in Victoria is on track to double by 2050.
There’s no official data on how many Victorians are killed by extreme heat every year.

Related VCOSS research

Power struggles
August 2017

Battling On
November 2018

A climate of fairness
October 2019

What you told us.

Has extreme heat affected your health or happiness? Or have you been unable to afford, or otherwise access, appliances to ‘beat the heat’? Please let us know at the VCOSS Your Say portal.

Report launch – public event

Recorded live on Thursday 3 June, 2021

The pre-recorded videos played during this live event are all available higher up on this page.


VCOSS is the peak body for Victoria’s social and community sector, and the state’s premier social advocacy body.

We work towards a Victoria free from poverty and disadvantage, where every person and community experiences genuine wellbeing. Read more.

We welcome the opportunity to provide this input.