New analysis shows Queensland is the only eastern Australian state that has yet to receive federal funding to improve the energy efficiency of social housing, prompting calls from researchers and community groups for immediate action.
So far the Federal Government has partnered with Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT to fund schemes under the Household Energy Upgrades Fund that will increase the energy efficiency of social housing and help tenants access rooftop solar to reduce their electricity bills.
Griffith University Professor Susan Harris Rimmer said: “Many Queensland tenants are living in unhealthy energy inefficient homes that get unbearably hot in summer, which is contributing to hospitalisations and even deaths, and this issue is only getting worse due to climate change.”
Heatwaves are a significant cause of adverse health outcomes and mortality in Australia.
Queensland Conservation Council Campaigner Stephanie Gray said: “Parts of Queensland have been dealing with sweltering temperatures this summer.
“Research shows the number of heatwaves in Queensland over the last several years has more than tripled, largely due to climate change.”
Rimmer stated that upgrading social housing and making it more energy efficient is crucial to help make homes healthy and cool, and also helps lower electricity bills for tenants.
“Likewise, access to cheap solar energy gives vulnerable Queenslanders more freedom to remain cool by running fans or air conditioners without having to worry about being able to afford electricity bills.
“Queenslanders can’t afford to miss out on their fair share of this vital federal funding, particularly because the Sunshine State unfortunately records the most hospitalisations from heat-related illness every year,” said Rimmer.
The Power Together coalition — a collection of social service, community and environmental groups — is currently campaigning for the Queensland and Federal governments to support energy efficiency upgrades as well as funding for solar for social housing tenants and renters.
Solar Citizens CEO Heidi Lee Douglas said: “The Queensland Government is risking as much as $60 million from the Commonwealth intended to improve the energy efficiency of the state’s social housing stock, which risks disastrous outcomes for Queensland’s social housing residents.
“Rolling out rooftop solar on social housing can save low-income households an average of $860 per year for the next twenty years, while also contributing cheap, clean energy back to the grid and providing cheaper electricity for all Queenslanders.”