Heatwaves kill more Australians than any other natural disasters. They have received far less public attention than cyclone, flood or bushfire. These private, silent deaths only hit the media when morgues reach capacity, or infrastructure fails.
There has never been a national study that uses a common definition of heatwaves and directly comparable mortality data. Australia has no national heatwave plan. This report remedies these deficiencies and recommends strategies for federal, state and local governments, and for individuals.
We can do much more to make our cities, homes, businesses, infrastructure and citizens more resilient. Central to this effort is the development of a national excessive heat-factor forecasting framework, which recognises local differences in heat conditions and experience. Our research found that the Bureau of Meteorology, with the right support, could readily provide such a tool.
With this early warning, and by using conventional and social media intelligently, emergency services, social and health workers, families and carers will be in a much better position to respond.
This is the second PwC report prompted by the loss of life and property caused by record high temperatures across southern Australia in February 2009. The first report Effective Disaster Recovery was published in July 2010.