Australia is set for a heatwave over Christmas, with every capital city set for around 30 degrees on Sunday. It's going to get even hotter in Melbourne, with 35 degrees predicted for Christmas Day. The high temperatures aren't tipped to subside until Thursday, and while a few hot days give all of us a bit to worry about, spare a thought for the homeless -- people who don't have an air con unit or fan to laze in front of all day, a fridge to keep a supply of cold drinks, or sometimes even a secure cool space to just sit down.
It's why the City of Melbourne's latest venture, a bit of a Christmas present for some of the city's less fortunate, is so important. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle announced on Friday the council would give thousands of free pool passes and movie tickets to the city's homeless during the hot summer months, giving them a chance to cool off with a swim or escape the heat in a cool, dark theatre.
Think about the cool, air-conditioned places you can go if you live in a city. Shopping mall? Homeless people are often moved on by security. Cafes and restaurants? Ditto. Cinema? If you're homeless, it's probably a little hard to come up with $16 to see the latest blockbuster and get a few hours respite from the outside heat. That's why the City has supplied 2,250 pool passes and 240 movie tickets for the homeless population, to be distributed by homelessness agencies.
"People who are sleeping rough represent some of the most vulnerable in our community. This plan provides some welcome respite to those who have nowhere else to go on days of extreme heat," Doyle said.
"The simple act of inviting someone inside to escape the heat of the day to use one of our swimming pools, see a movie or just sit in an air-conditioned room could save a life."
Doyle said 374 people died in Melbourne in a 2009 heatwave, a toll higher than Victoria's annual road death toll.
Homeless people will get a free swim and locker use at Melbourne City Baths, North Melbourne Recreation Centre, Carlton Baths and the Kensington Community Recreation Centre. Free movie tickets will also be provided to give homeless people "cool, safe, welcoming, inclusive environments after hours and on weekends during extreme heat," the Lord Mayor said.
The City has also organised for the Salvation Army to open its Hamodava cafe community centre overnight during extreme heat events.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA