Volunteers provide assistance to homeless during ‘horror heatwave’

24 January 2019
Sydney Community Care Van volunteer Frank Zipfinger on Monday night distributing items to help the homeless cope with the heat. Image: Australian Association, Order of Malta.


Experts are warning that ‘horror heatwave’ conditions will be felt across large parts of Australia this week.

Parts of NSW will swelter into the 40s on Wednesday, just a precursor of a 45C high to come on Friday.

The NSW Health Department has said it’s now the worst heat the state has experienced for a prolonged period since 2011, when a heatwave increased the mortality rate by 13 per cent and hospital admissions by 14 per cent.

Authorities across the state have urged people to hydrate, check on vulnerable friends, family and neighbours and not to leave children or pets in hot cars. However during these conditions the homeless are also particularly vulnerable.

The Order of Malta Community Care Van Volunteers in Parramatta and Sydney are distributing sunhats, sunscreen and water to those sleeping rough. A nurse is also on hand to offer healthcare assessment and advice.

“In the four years we have been running the Community Care Van project we have never seen anything like it,” explains Regional Hospitaller, Mark Boffa. “The rough sleepers we distribute water, sun hats and sunscreen to are extremely grateful for these items in the hot and humid conditions.”

“Homelessness and heatwaves are not just limited to the areas we currently service. Expanding beyond these areas is our current focus however funding is our primary obstacle.”

The Community Care Vans currently operate three times a week, are staffed by volunteers and funded by donations. If you would like to learn more about volunteering for this service visit www.orderofmalta.org.au.

With thanks to the Australian Association of the Order of Malta.

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