The City of Kingston is located in the middle and outer southern suburbs of Melbourne, approximately 20 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD and includes the suburbs of Aspendale, Aspendale Gardens, Bonbeach, Braeside, Carrum, Chelsea, Chelsea Heights, Cheltenham, Clarinda, Clayton South, Dingley Village, Edithvale, Heatherton, Highett, Mentone, Moorabbin, Mordialloc, Oakleigh South, Parkdale, Patterson Lakes and Waterways. Kingston City Council’s Urban Cooling Community Education program aims to educate its community about the heating climate and how people can protect themselves and others from the impact of heat, now and into the future.
Kingston City Council collected data to inform the gender impact assessment and identify potential barriers limiting participation in urban cooling community education initiatives. Information about Kingston community demographics, perceptions of climate change impact, health and wellbeing, community education participation and urban cooling data were obtained from internal sources including community education registration records, Kingston Public Health and Wellbeing Survey results and the Urban Cooling Strategy research. External data included the Heat Health Plan for Victoria 2021 from the Department of Health, The risks to Australia of a 3°C warmer world from the Australian Academy of Science and the Climate page of the NSW Health website
The internal registration data of program participants partially revealed information on the demographics of groups currently accessing community education and the groups not participating. Reviewing this data highlighted the need for further data collection to obtain a comprehensive understanding of participant demographics.
Kingston and state government research into urban heat impacts revealed the demographic groups most vulnerable to the impacts of heat and therefore, the priority groups for targeted education.
The research revealed different gender-specific needs related to urban cooling education. It found women are more likely to be providing unpaid care for infants, older persons, and people living with a disability, who are most vulnerable to heat. Men are more likely to be working in outdoor and high heat environments and are directly vulnerable to our changing climate. The review of the data highlighted a gap in knowledge with no data available on the impact of rising temperatures for people of self-described gender.
Once the targeted demographic groups were identified, Kingston City Council conducted further research to understand the common educational needs, challenges, and barriers for each group. Some of the barriers identified included limited free time, language barriers, accessibility challenges and more.
In relation to gender, Kingston-specific data revealed that both women and men are time poor. Women’s time is typically occupied with paid and unpaid work and caring responsibilities while men’s time is predominantly occupied with full-time work. Kingston City Council identified the need to offer alternative times/locations/methods of education to increase attendance for all genders and engage a diverse range of participants.
Data also showed that women in Kingston do not feel as safe at night as men. There was no local data available about those of self-described gender, however, state data shows that young Victorian trans men, trans women, and non-binary people are also less likely to feel safe walking down the street at night than cisgender young people. Therefore, the council identified a need to increase the security of women and those of self-described gender who attend education sessions at night.
As a result of this Gender Impact Assessment, Kingston City Council has committed to a range of actions to help alleviate barriers people might face when accessing future community education programs. Actions fell under three main themes.
Offer alternative forms of engagement
Provide the community with more options for how and when they participate in community education. This involves conducting the sessions online, face to face, at workplaces, recording the sessions, hosting community viewing sessions of the recordings, providing transcripts in multiple languages, and providing engaging infographics summarising the information in multiple languages.
Improve education session registration forms
Enhance the current registration forms by collecting more demographic data to enable analysis of the reach of the program and the populations who are and are not attending the sessions. The form will also be expanded to include a contact number and additional field to allow participants to describe any accessibility requirements they need before commencing the session.
Exploring opportunities to enhance safety
The final set of actions includes exploring ways to enhance the safety of those travelling to and from night sessions and investigating advanced security options for those who may request it on the registration form.