A strong community sector for a safe climate


In the context of the ‘global boiling’ we are anticipating and starting to experience, Victorians will face a range of unprecedented challenges. In this world, rolling heatwaves will be the norm, food and water security will become increasingly tenuous, and natural disasters will threaten more homes, organisations, livelihoods and lives. All these impacts will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our society, including people experiencing poverty, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and those with disability.

Climate change is exacerbating pre-existing disadvantages, making the work of community sector organisations (known as CSOs) work even more vital.

This report explores how community organisations are responding to climate change, and what they need in order to ramp up that response to continue meeting the needs of their communities. It is the product of extensive qualitative and quantitative research and engagement with CSOs

The anticipated impacts of climate change on Victorian community organisations include:

  • Damage to organisations’ assets, including buildings and vehicle fleets;
  • Staff being unable to remain safely housed in the local vicinity of their employing organisations;
  • Workers being unable to get to work during climate events like bushfires or flooding, or even on hotter-than-normal days; and
  • Reduced ability of staff to visit clients in their home.

We find the sector’s important role in the context of climate change must be adequately recognised and resourced, and work is needed to map services and service gaps across the state.

Vitally, the sector needs consistent and long-term funding to continue meeting demand for its services (which will increase as climate change progresses), and to prepare its workforce and operations to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Work is also needed to build awareness and knowledge within the sector, in order for community organisations to survive and thrive as supports for their communities. Organisations cannot afford not to plan for the major risks that climate change poses.

The community sector also plays a critical influencing role in raising awareness within communities on climate change, and advocating for change on communities’ behalf.

A well prepared, resourced and resilient community sector will lead to a stronger, healthier and safer Victoria in the decades to come.

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.

This work is authorised by VCOSS CEO Juanita Pope.

VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country, and we pay respect to Elders and Ancestors. Our business is conducted on sovereign, unceded Aboriginal land. The VCOSS offices are located on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung land in central Naarm.