AS school wraps up across Australia, millions of families will be unable to keep their kids cool in dangerously hot homes, with cost-of-living pressures stretching households to the financial limit, a new report from Parents for Climate and Sweltering Cities warns.
The report, Hothouse Australia: Our kids at risk as heat soars, highlights that millions of children, including more than 760,000 children living in poverty in Australia, face heightened risks to their health and education from exposure to extreme summer heat at home.
Around three in four lower-income households, already making hard choices to keep food on the table, are also likely to cut back on the use of air conditioning and cooling appliances due to cost pressures, despite living in poorly insulated and energy-inefficient homes.
Additionally, around one in five Australians cannot afford to cool their home.
Children are more susceptible to a range of health issues due to extreme heat, and less capable of mitigating these risks.
Parents for Climate and Sweltering Cities are calling on the Commonwealth to work with the states to protect the most vulnerable Australians from the twin threats of rising heat and rising costs.
The report proposes initiatives including the rollout of efficient reverse-cycle air conditioning units powered by rooftop solar panels in all low-income households, all schools and childcare centres, and better thermal insulation in all Australian homes to stop kids sweltering in unsafe homes and learning environments.
Parents For Climate chief executive officer Nic Seton said millions of families are being left to solve an impossible problem of keeping kids safe in record heat while facing rising costs of living. As kids start their holidays, their safety is at risk when every home should be a heat refuge.
Sweltering Cities executive director Emma Bacon said Australian homes are dangerously hot, and the cost of living crisis means more people than ever are struggling to keep cool.
“Heatwaves are our deadliest environmental disaster and kids are one of the at-risk groups. We need to make sure they can be safe at home or school during heatwaves,” she said.