Local Government Councillors Call For Urgent Action On Climate Change

Published on 20 August 2021

Climate change hourglass

Councillors from across Melbourne’s south east have called on Government to support their communities to take urgent action and protect them from the impacts of climate change.

The Councillor Advisory Group (CAG) of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance discussed the extremely serious and devastating climate events occurring in the Northern Hemisphere and noted that communities in the south east region are also experiencing both acute and chronic climate change impacts.

Cr Michael Whelan, Chair of the CAG and Deputy Mayor of Bass Coast Shire Council said that governments and communities must acknowledge that the threat of climate change is right here and right now.

“The IPCC's recent Sixth Assessment report presents an absolutely frightening picture of what the future holds for us, for our children and grandchildren and generations to come. The impacts and costs are only going to worsen.”

“With Australia’s land areas having increased in temperatures by 1.40C, communities are already experiencing devastating impacts resulting from these temperature increases. Every municipality in the south east of Melbourne has a story to tell about how increasingly intense heat, bushfire, rainfall, storm surge and drought hurt their communities, particularly the vulnerable.”

“Local government and the communities they represent are at the frontline of dealing with climate change impacts, but they are the least resourced to address the problems.”

“It is past time to get serious on this issue, our beaches are disappearing, the Brighton bathing boxes are being shored up with sandbags, beaches are being replaced by rock walls, valuable buildings are being damaged by storm surge events and bayside drainage is no longer coping with rainfall events.”

“Science says that to have any hope of keeping global temperatures to 1.50C above preindustrial temperatures, we must stop using fossil fuels and rapidly deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency. We need to invest in technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere. We wait at our peril.”

“Local government needs urgent financial assistance to enable them to invest in infrastructure that will protect communities from climate impacts.”

“All levels of government must work together to accelerate this transition ensuring our economic well-being and making sure vulnerable members of our community are protected.”

The CAG also lamented the distraction from urgent and effective climate response that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

“The devastating bushfires of 2019/2020 should have been met with shock and awe however have been overshadowed by the more evident, acute threat of COVID-19. We must not lose focus on climate change, a chronic threat, even as we finally forge our way forward into a COVID-normal world.”

“When it comes to human health and well-being, and good governance, our current response to this climate emergency falls woefully short.”


20 August 2021


The following incidents are firsthand examples of how climate change is impacting councils and communities in the SECCCA region. For further information on these examples, please contact that council’s media team.

Cr Michael Whelan is available to provide further comment in his role as Chair of the SECCCA Councillor Advisory Group.

For more information, please contact Cr Michael Whelan via communications@basscoast.vic.gov.au


Erosion is a significant issue across Bass Coast, that has increased significantly over the past 10 years, with community assets such as the Inverloch surf beach experiencing further significant erosion with impacts on built public assets including the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club building and the Bunurong Road.

The recent storms, which hit eastern Victoria resulted in significant power outages in the Bass Coast region.

For further information please contact: communications@basscoast.vic.gov.au


Foreshore infrastructure along the 17 kilometres of beautiful coastline in Bayside is subject to the impacts of climate change. Storm surges and rising sea levels will cause greater coastal erosion and threaten highly valued community assets such as piers, jetties, beaches, bicycle and walking trails, and the iconic Bathing Boxes. More frequent extreme heat and weather will impact our trees and green spaces. Most importantly, the ageing population in Bayside will be more vulnerable to the health impacts of heat waves.

For further information please contact: media@bayside.vic.gov.au


The City of Casey’s coastal environment extends from Warneet, Cannons Creek and Blind Bight through to Tooradin and is vulnerable to climate change as sea levels rise with king tides reaching coastal assets such as public benches and paths.

Additionally, due to low tree canopy cover in the municipality, Casey is exposed to the urban heat island effect, which is experienced during the summer months and can affect vulnerable or elderly residents.

For further information please contact: media@casey.vic.gov.au

GREATER DANDENONG CITY COUNCIL The unique context of Greater Dandenong as Victoria’s manufacturing hub and most culturally diverse municipality combine to make the City particularly vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat and heat waves. The extensive built environment and low tree canopy cover, combined with higher levels of social disadvantage, mean the community’s ability to adapt to the impacts of a rapidly warming world and remain resilient to the climate change is severely compromised.

For further information please contact Media and Communications Team – 03 8571 5359

20 August 2021


Recent storms have resulted in the beach eroding between Olivers Hill and Frankston Pier to the point where dune protection fencing is at risk of collapse. This beach underwent a full renourishment at great cost by the Victorian Government only 10 years ago. While it is influenced by many factors, coastal erosion is being impacted by climate change.

For further information please contact the Communications Team, mediaandcomms@frankston.vic.gov.au


Increasing severity of storm surges are eroding dunes, undermining the foundations of Council buildings. Council recently permanently relocated Patterson River Motorboat Club.

Increasingly severe storms have swamped the iconic Mordialloc Pier and raised water levels at the mouth of Mordialloc Creek to dangerously high levels. The adjoining parkland, roads and nearby shopping precinct is low lying and would be at risk should extreme storm events result in even a moderate increase in water levels.

For further information please contact Kesha West, Acting Senior Media Advisor kesha.west@kingston.vic.gov.au


Thousands of residents, businesses and stakeholders in Emerald, Cockatoo and Gembrook localities were impacted by recent storms. The storms brought down trees and disrupted the supply of electricity to many households. Residents affected by this disruption had to find alternative means to heat their homes during the coldest time of the year. The Puffing Billy Railway between Belgrave and Emerald was severely affected by the storm. More than 70 trees fell across the line and needed to be cleared before the heritage attraction could be reopened.

For further information please contact K.Norton@cardinia.vic.gov.au.


Much of the coastline, including Mount Martha North and Rosebud / Capel Sound is subject to coastal erosion or inundation. This erosion impacts on cultural sites, access paths, natural environment and private assets. Inundation of Tootgarook Wetland/Swamp is predicted to impact nearby private and public properties and the unique riparian ecosystem.

Mount Martha North Beach and Cliff - Mornington Peninsula Shire (mornpen.vic.gov.au)

The health and wellbeing of the community, especially elderly and residents with disabilities are impacted by the increased intensity and frequency of heatwaves. On the Peninsula, 24.6% of the population is over 65 y.o and 27.1% of the population over 65 y.o live alone. A number of factors increase the risk of older people to climate change events including pre-existing health conditions that limit the ability to respond to stressors. In addition, 1 in 5 residents of the peninsula live with a disability and 5.8% need help with daily activities. People living with a disability typically have worse health status than the general population, placing them at greater risk during extreme weather events. https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/silentkillerreport/

For further information please contact: Tina McGuffie, Communications Team, Mornington Peninsula Shire, 0466 470 656, news@mornpen.vic.gov.au

20 August 2021


The City of Port Phillip is already experiencing the negative impacts of climate change on public and private infrastructure as well as on health and wellbeing.

Port Phillip is located at the bottom of the Elster Creek and Yarra River catchments. Much of the City is less than three metres above sea level and is experiencing weather induced flash flooding which causes damage to public and private property, as well as costly clean up bills and disruption to transport.

Heat stress is having a greater impact on Port Phillip’s vulnerable community, which includes residents on fixed incomes, residents in insecure housing and older residents who can’t always access cool spaces. Increased heat and less consistent rainfall make it challenging and costly to maintain healthy trees, parks and gardens in order to provide shade and cool temperatures for the community.

For further information please contact

Media Enquiries - mediaenquiries@portphillip.vic.gov.au

Information on Southeast Councils Climate Change Alliance

The South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA) is made up of nine local governments in the south east of Melbourne. SECCCA Councils span the metropolitan, peri urban and rural divide and have some of the fastest growing residential developments on the fringe of metropolitan Melbourne. Together, SECCCA Councils serve over one million residents. Through SECCCA, these Councils collaborate to act on climate change. This action includes mitigation and adaptation projects and advocacy for the community.

SECCCA’s vision is for a thriving and productive southeast Melbourne region that has a safe and sustainable climate. Together with a majority of member councils, SECCCA has declared a Climate Emergency recognising the existential threat climate change poses to our communities and our environment, and calls for urgent action to address the risks.