25 March 2024

Play supports all areas of children’s development – physical, social, emotional, cognitive, literacy and numeracy.

Play has long been described as ‘children’s work’ and most children play instinctively. 

Early childhood education and care services use play-based programs which are developmentally-appropriate activities which make learning fun through play.

This approach is a key first step in supporting children to be ready for formal classroom learning at school.

Parents can use play-based learning to support children by:

  • talking with their child throughout the day
  • singing songs
  • telling and reading stories
  • enrolling them in quality early childhood education and care services

The Australian Early Development Census measures children’s development across a range of domains upon their entry into Kindergarten.

The most recent data in 2021 showed high rates of children in South Western Sydney were vulnerable in more than one domain of development when starting Kindergarten.

Play is powerful in supporting these children in having the best possible start to school.

Useful links:

Find a children’s service:


Importance of play to children’s learning and development:



Find out about the Australian Early Development Census:


This article was written by members of the ‘Stronger Seeds, Taller Trees’ project which includes professionals from a number of government and non-government organisations in South Western Sydney. The group aims to support GPs working with families to navigate and access timely services when they have a concern about a child’s development.

22 February 2024

The Wests Tigers Foundation Beyond the 80 (BT80) program is a free 10-week healthy lifestyle initiative supported by SWSPHN and developed by the Wests Tigers Rugby League Football Club and Western Sydney University.

The BT80 program is a community-driven initiative focused on promoting a healthy and active lifestyle among young girls aged seven to 11 and their families in Western Sydney. The program’s ultimate goal is to create a supportive and empowering environment which fosters positive health outcomes and builds a stronger and healthier community.

Wests Tigers Community Team Lead Kenneth Tuala said: “Together, we aim to inspire young females and their families, fostering healthy lifestyles through engaging workshops”.

BT80 offers specialised training and activities which aim to strengthen rugby league skills while promoting healthy lifestyle habits.

“It’s more than just rugby league; it’s about building a healthier, stronger community extending well beyond the 80 minutes on the field,” Tuala said.

The BT80 program will commence with an orientation day on Monday, 9 March, where family measurements will be taken. The program’s activities and training will then begin on 20 March and run for 10 weeks every Wednesday from 6pm to 7.30pm at Western Sydney University’s Campbelltown Campus.

To register for BT80, you must:

  • have at least one daughter aged seven to 11 willing to participate in BT80
  • at least one parent willing to participate in BT80
  • reside in Western Sydney

Spaces are limited; register your interest


Find out more on the Wests Tigers website

21 February 2024

The COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in a cohort of children whose development is delayed.

Young children have had limited access to social interactions and early learning environments during the critical period of their brain development, which has both created and compounded existing developmental delays.

Due to this, the need for early intervention is the highest it’s ever been.

The importance of early intervention

Early intervention is linked with positive outcomes for children.

It can positively impact all aspects of development, including social, physical, communication, cognitive and psychological development.

Referrals: where and how

Early referral to intervention services is crucial in maximising outcomes.

It is more important than ever to refer early as the COVID-19 lockdowns have increased waiting times in both public and private services.

Please consider referring to both public and private services (using Medicare rebate options) so families are offered supports in the timeliest manner.

Download where and how to refer

This article was written by members of the ‘Stronger Seeds, Taller Trees’ project which includes professionals from a number of government and non-government organisations in South Western Sydney. The group aims to support GPs working with families to navigate and access timely services when they have a concern about a child’s development.

20 February 2024

Village Connect is a unique child and family hub designed by Karitane in partnership with Sonder and Uniting to support parents aged 25 and under who are pregnant or have a child, living in South Western Sydney.

The hub brings together child and family health services, key workers and a wide range of resources to ensure parents get the help they need, when they need it.

It aims to improve the confidence and skills of parents in connecting with and raising their child through a range of support services including playgroups, parenting workshops and care navigation services.

Nurses, wellbeing experts, and psychologists also offer parents access to 24/7 confidential medical, safety and mental healthcare support via the Sonder app

Find out more about Village Connect

24 January 2024

The Go4Fun healthy lifestyle program for families and children aged seven to 13 is returning with sessions across South Western Sydney in Term 1, from Monday, 29 January 2024.

Locations include:

  • Cabramatta Community Centre 
  • Bankstown PCYC 
  • Moss Vale Aquatic Centre 
  • Eagle Vale Leisure Centre 
  • Michael Clarke Recreation Centre 
  • Mt Annan Leisure Centre 

You can register by phoning 1800 780 900 or visiting go4fun.com.au.

What is Go4Fun?

Go4Fun is a free program for children aged seven to 13 who are above a healthy weight, and their families. Trained health and community professionals like dietitians and exercise physiologists run the program which is a fun way to build self-esteem and learn about eating well, staying active and living a healthy life.

Go4Fun takes place during school terms, usually after school. Sessions run once a week for two hours, during a 10-week period. A parent or carer must come to every session.

Find out more about what's involved

Aboriginal Go4Fun

Aboriginal Go4Fun was developed in partnership with Aboriginal communities and is delivered by local Aboriginal organisations together with NSW Health. The program encourages the whole community to join in.

Aboriginal Go4Fun includes:

  • Aboriginal support staff
  • Traditional Indigenous games
  • Tailored resources
Find out more about Aboriginal Go4Fun

Go4Fun online

Go4Fun Online is perfect for families that can’t make it to our face-to-face program, but still want to make health changes to their lifestyle.

Go4Fun Online runs over 10 weeks and includes:

  • Weekly online activity sessions
  • Weekly phone coaching with a health professional
  • Resources and prizes
  • Our online community where you can chat to other families in the program
  • Email and text message support
Find out more about Go4Fun online
12 December 2023

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there are 50 indicators to measure “what matters”. The indicators are then organised into five wellbeing themes, which combine to create an overall “life satisfaction” rating.

One of the themes is “cohesive”, explained as: A society which supports connections with family, friends and the community, values diversity, and promotes belonging and culture.

As we head into the festive and holiday season, there’s no better time to tick off some of those important indicators such as sense of belonging, social connections and time for recreation and social interaction.

We’ve compiled a list – just touching the surface – of activities to do and places to visit over the next month or two. Pack up the kids, grab a few mates … and discover some of the things Western Sydney has to offer.

We guarantee your “life satisfaction” meter will hit the roof.

It’s hot! Of course it is, it’s summer. But there’s plenty of options to cool down, right across the region. If you’ve got younger ones who want to splash, head for a water park. There’s also plenty of local swimming centres and pools to chill in the heat. Keep an eye open for when the new Penrith Beach opens to the public.

The great outdoors. We’re blessed in Sydney to live in suburbia but have so many green spaces and bushland to explore and enjoy. If your budget is a bit on the tight side, you can pack a picnic basket, some games and discover what’s in your suburban backyard. For free! One of our recommendations is the Australian Botanic Garden, at Mount Annan. You can enjoy 416ha of bushland, lawns, lakes and gardens and discover 4,000 native and introduced plants and trees. There’s also plenty of holiday activities, including talks, walks and workshops.

If you want a bit of adventure, we’ve got some things for you to try. There’s obstacle courses, white water rafting, the biggest playground slide in Western Sydney and what’s been described as the biggest indoor inflatable playground in Australia. For the adrenaline junkies, there the Skypeak adventure course in St Marys and the indoor skydiving centre in Penrith. There are challenges for all sizes and levels of risk-takers We dare you!

Visiting a museum, art gallery or historic property should always be a family consideration. It’s important to introduce children to culture, learning and history – and it’s an ideal way to initiate discussion, thinking and appreciation. There’s an awesome selection of places to visit in the region.

There’s nothing which creates as much joy as interacting with animals. A visit to see animals is food for the soul. And, of course, we’re fortunate to have so many opportunities within driving distance.

When you’ve exhausted this list or ticked off a few more places to visit and things to do, we have a couple more suggestions. Breathe deeply … and take in the vastness of our ancient land. National and state parks and conservation areas are on our doorstep, with an array of amazing attractions to stimulate our senses.

This list is by no means exhaustive. The Georges and Nepean rivers meander through our region, our local playgrounds are endless as are our sporting facilities and public places to gather, chat or enjoy a barbecue. There are heritage sites and houses to visit, public artworks to admire and shopping centres to get our retail fix. We can take in a movie, enjoy a concert or just kick back and admire the views.

These holidays, your level of adventure – or relaxation – will only be limited by your imagination.

CAPTION: Mount Jellore Lookout at Mount Gibraltar Reserve, Bowral. 

08 December 2023

Ho ho ho.

December has darted by and you’re already staring down the Christmas Day barrel. Time to get out the checklist and make sure you’ve got all bases covered.

  • Tree and decorations up✅ and up to scratch ✅
  • Gifts for everyone ✅ Wrapped✅ Labelled✅ Under the tree✅
  • Fridge stocked ✅ Alcohol✅
  • Ready for the big day ✅

But slow down.

While preparations for Christmas Day are in hand, there’s a lot of other considerations – focusing on safety and wellbeing – which need some thought and planning as well.

The festive and holiday season are about winding down, celebrations, get-togethers and parties, family and friends, getting away, day trips … and generally eating and drinking too much.

Some of those activities, done on the spur and in the spirit of the moment or without thinking or planning, can present unnecessary risks.

There’s also the natural elements to take into consideration – sun, heat and dry storms can combine lethally to produce bushfires.

At the same time, businesses take the opportunity for a breather – so availability and access to goods and services are limited. 

Here’s some examples of the festive season gone wrong!

  • Celebrating outdoors in the heat of the day. Sun and alcohol don’t mix. Think heatstroke or sunburn. And the chemist or your GP are closed.
  • Heading away for a few days, and you’ve posted your excitement on social media. You’ve also forgotten to get your mail held at the post office. Your friends are happy for you – and so are potential thieves.
  • You’ve gone hard on your Christmas lights display this year. But you’ve used double adaptors and plugged too many lights into one power socket. There’s a meltdown. And a fire.
  • The weather is enticing, and you’ve launched the boat for a few hours in the bay. Alcohol and jovial spirits are a recipe for disaster.

Beyond the Christmas tree and tinsel, some risk assessment and planning should be part of your overall festive preparations.

These will guarantee a safer and happier holiday season all round.

Medication mastermind

According to Healthdirect Australia, more than one in five Australians forget to pack their medication when going on holiday.

Do you have enough prescriptions and medications to get you through the public holidays? If you’re going away, do you have an up-to-date list of your medications?

Visit your GP and pharmacy before the Christmas shutdown and plan ahead.

Theft and security suggestions

Annual crime statistics show an increase in burglaries in the lead-up to Christmas, with a spike in January.

Insurance claims for household theft also skyrocket during the same period.

Common claims over the festive season include jewellery, electrical equipment, computers and accessories, bikes, and tools.

There’s a few simple and commonsense safeguards you can take to protect your home and property.

If you’re home over Christmas:

  • Don’t put Christmas trees and presents near windows with a street view as this can encourage opportunistic thieves.
  • If you are expecting parcel deliveries and no one is home, redirect the parcel to the PO or get a PO locker.
  • Lock toys and tools away each night.
  • Front and back doors are the first line of defence against potential thieves. Invest in the best quality door locks, screens and maybe even a security system.

If you’re going away:

  • Don’t post your holiday plans on social media.
  • Ensure the house is securely locked, including windows usually left open.
  • Smart plugs can be set on timers or controlled automatically, and some systems even have a built-in mode which will randomly turn lights or a radio/television on or off during evening or morning hours.
  • Redirect your mail or have it collected by a friend. Ask the friend to regularly clear brochures and advertising material from the letterbox.
  • Tell neighbours or friends, who can check on the house, you are away and who will be at the house legitimately, such as pet minders, family or the mowing man.
  • Secure your garage or, if unable, move items such as bikes inside the house.
  • Do not leave cash in the house and make sure jewellery is locked away in a safe place.
  • Mow the lawn, tidy the yard and stop all deliveries.
  • If you have a landline, turn off the answering machine and turn the phone volume down.

NSW Police recommend some simple ongoing measures to protect your property and give you peace of mind all year through.

Christmas commonsense

Everyone wants their Christmas decorations to look the best and reflect the festive mood.

There’s the twinkling lights display outside, more lights on the tree and perhaps some animated electric displays indoors.

You also might have some Christmas candles to set the atmosphere.

Remember, there are some important do’s and don’ts:

  • Check all smoke detectors in your house in the lead-up to Christmas.
  • Safely maintain your indoor and outdoor electrical decorations. Check them for frayed or bent cords and blown or flickering globes. Keep a record of when you bought the items and replace them as they age.
  • Don’t overload circuits, extension cords, or electrical sockets. Spread decorations across multiple circuits to prevent a meltdown.
  • Consider where to place your Christmas tree. If it’s a real tree, it will dry out and could become a fire hazard.
  • Never leave candles unattended or near flammable objects such as curtains.
  • Turn off lights and other electronics before going to bed.

Kitchen craziness

Festive and holiday season celebrations often start in the kitchen and adjourn to the dining room table. Family and friendship bonds are cemented by good food and accompanied by a glass of wine or beer.

But the fun and laughter can take the focus away from kitchen and cooking safety. A Christmas safety article reports on Christmas Day one in 10 people experience cooking burns and blisters with hot liquids, and one in five people tend to get serious cuts while cutting the meat and vegetables. 

There are a few reminders to take the crazy out of the kitchen on Christmas Day:

  • Limit the number of people in the kitchen – keep children and pets out – and especially around the hotplate, oven and food.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  • If you are frying, grilling or boiling food, don’t leave pans and pots unattended. If you’re simmering, baking or roasting food, check regularly.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep flammable items, such as pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, food packaging and towels, away from your stove, oven or any other kitchen appliance that generates heat.
  • Use different chopping boards for raw meat, fruit and vegetables.

There’s also some important steps to follow for food preparation and cooking, serving and storage – to ensure you and your family and friends stay safe.

  • Always cook poultry, minced meat and sausages all the way through until the juices run clear and there is no pink.
  • Whole pieces of red meat can be cooked to taste, and if it is properly heated and well browned on the outside to kill bacteria it can be rare inside.
  • Food should not be kept at between 5°C and 60°C — the ‘temperature danger zone’ — for more than two hours. If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone for two to four hours, you should use it immediately. If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours, toss it in the bin.
  • Keep food steaming hot until you serve it.
  • Cool leftovers quickly. This prevents bacteria which have survived the cooking process from multiplying while your hot food cools down. The best way to do this is to cover any leftovers and put them in the fridge or freezer. Leftovers can generally be kept for two to four days in the fridge.
  • If you’re sending guests home with leftovers, give them ice packs or blocks from the freezer to keep their food chilled on the way home.
  • When you reheat leftover foods, make sure all parts are steaming hot, enough to kill off any bacteria. Reheat food rapidly to at least 70ºC.

Drink smart, not hard

We’ve all done it! It’s easy to get carried away with friends, parties and festivities, the moment … and the drinks just keep flowing. We can be regretful the next day, but in the meantime some damage may have been done. Relationships. Poor decisions. Accidents.

Think first, before you’re not in a position to make a good decision:

  • If you’re out and about and drinking, always have a plan on how you’re getting home. Never drive. Consider public transport options.
  • If you’re in a group, always look out for one another.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Don’t combine alcohol with too much sun. Alcohol will dehydrate you quicker.
  • If you’re had some drinks, avoid activities that put you in the driver’s seat like driving, bike riding, skating, boating or surfing.
  • Step away from lively differences of opinion that may develop into arguments. Agree to disagree.
  • If you do find yourself in a triggering situation, call it a night.
  • If you’re the host of a get-together, ensure there’s plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Make games and activities available that offer a break from drinking.

Sun smart

The festive season coincides with summer holidays and, of course, that’s the peak heat point of the year.

Extreme heat events in Australia claim more deaths than all other natural hazard events combined. Those at greater risk include older people, people with existing medical conditions, babies and young children, outdoor workers, socially isolated people, people who are homeless and pregnant women.

Visit NSW Health for some beat the heat advice and recommendations. Healthdirect also has some great information and suggestions to stay cool and avoid hot weather risks.

Cancer Council NSW still promotes its slip, slop and slap campaign, though in later years it has added another two pieces of sound advice: seek shade and slide on the sunglasses.

DIY dangers

Holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some DIY projects and house maintenance. Think ladders, electrical equipment or chemicals.

A few simple measures can mean the difference between getting the job done safely and a trip to emergency:

  • Safety gear: Wear the right clothing for the job such as long sleeves and pants, enclosed shoes, protective glasses, earmuffs or plugs; breathing protection, gloves, disposable overalls, cut-resistant clothing and kneepads.
  • Hidden dangers: Be aware of the age of your property and be on the alert for lead-based paints and asbestos-based products.
  • Tools: Use the right tool for the job and make sure it’s in good working order. Always let someone know what you are doing so they can be aware of risks and hazards and find you if needed. It’s good practice to have someone working with you when using ladders, even at low heights.
  • Tradesman: Don’t attempt jobs that require a licensed tradesman such as electrician or plumber. It’s illegal to do them yourself.
  • Assess the job: Don’t do a DIY job beyond your capabilities and tool kit. Safety, structural integrity and longevity are paramount, especially for future homeowners.

Bushfire threat

Most of us remember the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires which roared into life across Australia, caused by dry conditions, a lack of soil moisture and, finally, extreme temperatures. They peaked in December 2019 and were only extinguished completely in May 2020, after ravaging 24.3 million hectares, destroying 3,000 buildings (including 2,782 homes), and claiming 34 lives.

  • The NSW Government has guidelines on how to prepare a bushfire survival plan.
  • The NSW RFS has an online assessment tool designed to help you make an informed decision when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether you will leave early, or stay with your property and defend it.
  • While no one wants any type of emergency over Christmas, it’s always wise to be prepared in a practical sense. An emergency preparedness kit should be stocked and stored in an accessible spot. It should include food, water, medications, phone numbers, first aid kit, torch with extra batteries, and blankets.

Take the stress out of Christmas

The Christmas and holiday season are a conundrum. On one hand, they’re about family, friends, and celebrations. That can bring lots of fun and laughter, though it can be a cause of stress in itself.

But it’s also the loneliest time of the year for some. Lifeline reports calls and texts peak up to 6 per cent above average in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and on the day immediately after the New Year’s Day public holiday.

Healthdirect offers a practical eight ways to stress-proof your festive season. Healthdirect also offers 24-hour health advice on 1800 022 222.

If you need and want to talk to someone, there’s always a caring and friendly person at Lifeline 11 13 14, while the Mental Health Line can offer support on 1800 011 511.

16 November 2023

Jump to:

There’s no denying it’s getting hotter.

The current climate drivers, long-range forecast and recent conditions indicate an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires this year.

For the 2023–24 season, the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting the following conditions:

  • Heatwave – the forecast shows a high chance of unusually warm temperatures for most of Australia until at least February 2024.
  • November to January rainfall is likely to be below average across much of western, southern and north-eastern Australia.
  • November to January maximum and minimum temperatures are very likely to be above average for most of Australia.
  • November to January maximum and minimum temperatures are at least 2.5 times more likely than normal to be unusually high for most of Australia.

Senior meteorologist Sarah Scully said Australians should prepare for dry and warm conditions with an increased risk of heatwaves and bushfire weather this spring and summer.

“Daytime and night-time temperatures have an increased chance of being unusually warm until February. Warm nights after hot days means little relief from heat and can lead to heat stress,” Ms Scully said.

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, attended the GWS Future Health Forum 2023 in October in Parramatta, presented by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue.

Dr McDonald said one of the topics was of particular interest and concern to communities in South Western Sydney: Heat as a Health Threat in Greater Western Sydney. 

“Discussion was around heat as one of Greater Western Sydney’s lesser-known killers. Panellists agreed it’s an issue that has compounding effects on the community and is becoming more serious over time,” Dr McDonald said.

On the back of the health forum was the release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Let’s talk about the weather: injuries related to extreme weather.

According to the report, extreme heat in Australia accounted for 7,104 injury hospitalisations and 293 deaths in the 10-year period analysed (2012-2022). Apart from Tasmania, exposure to excessive natural heat was the most common cause leading to injury hospitalisation in all states and territories. 

The extreme weather report supports findings in the Climate, Health and Wellbeing in Western Parkland City (2023), a guidance document for the Western Sydney Health Alliance as part of the Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Project.

It is estimated there are three times as many heat-related deaths in Western Sydney during heatwaves than in Sydney’s east.

The Western Parkland City, which includes Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Liverpool and Wollondilly shire, is being impacted by rising temperatures, with the number of days per year over 35C degrees in Western Sydney increasing from an average of 9.5 days in the 1970s to 15.4 days per year in the last decade. This is projected to increase to 12 days over 40C per year by 2090.

Dr McDonald said understanding the impact of excessive heat on the body and following some simple measures could decrease the risks of heatstroke and heat stress.


Understanding hot weather risks

What is a heatwave?

Heatwaves are times of extreme heat, when the minimum and maximum temperatures are hotter than usual for three or more consecutive days.


When the weather is very hot, your body must work harder to produce more sweat to keep cool.

In some conditions, sweating is not enough and your body temperature can rise rapidly. This is more likely to happen when it is humid or when you are dehydrated and can’t produce enough sweat.

It is important your body temperature stays between 36.1 to 37.8˚C. If your body rises above this, you may develop signs of heat-related illness.

Heat-related illness occurs when the body absorbs too much heat. This may happen slowly over a day or two of extremely hot weather.

Act quickly to avoid serious—or even fatal—effects of fully developed heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke

  • Rapid pulse or weak pulse
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Dry, swollen tongue
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems concentrating or coordinating movements
  • Aggressive or strange behaviour
  • Dizziness, confusion, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • Sudden rise in body temperature
  • Hot, dry and possibly red skin, possibly with no sweat
  • Headache, nausea or vomiting
  • Intense thirst

Signs of heat stress

  • Rising body temperature
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Absence of tears when crying (children)

Who is at risk?

While most people find extremely hot weather and heatwaves uncomfortable, some people have a higher risk than others of becoming ill. These include:

  • Adults aged over 75 years, babies and young children
  • People with long-term health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes
  • People living with overweight or obesity
  • People taking certain medicines
  • People who are socially isolated
  • People who work outdoors or in hot and poorly ventilated areas
  • People who are not accustomed to the heat, for example, overseas visitors


Staying safe in the heat

Be prepared

  • Find ways to make your home or building cooler like light-coloured window coverings, awnings and shade cloth
  • Have air conditioners serviced before the start of summer
  • Ensure you have enough food, medicine and other supplies to avoid going out or if electricity supply is interrupted
  • If you have a medical condition, ask your GP for advice on how to manage the heat
  • Make a list of family, friends and neighbours you might want to check in on and ensure you have their current contact details
  • Drink 2 to 3 litres of water a day at regular intervals, even if you do not feel thirsty. If you are on a limited fluid intake, check with your GP
  • Limit intake of alcohol, soft drinks, sports drinks, tea or coffee
  • Eat normally but try to eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit. Avoid heavy protein foods which raise body heat and increase fluid loss

Keep out of the heat

  • If you can, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (11am to 3pm). Avoid strenuous activities and gardening
  • Do not leave children, adults or animals in parked cars
  • If you do go out, wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, porous clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen
  • Regularly rest in the shade and drink plenty of water

Stay as cool as possible

  • Stay inside, in the coolest rooms in your home
  • Block out the sun during the day and keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside
  • Use fans and air conditioners at home to keep cool, or spend time elsewhere in air-conditioning like a library, community centre, cinema or shopping centre
  • Take frequent cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water
  • Open windows after the sun/heat has gone down to allow for air circulation
  • Make sure to stay cool while you sleep. Just because the heat has gone down doesn’t mean it isn’t still hot

Keep food safe in hot weather

  • Put food back in the fridge after using it
  • Don’t eat food left out of the fridge for 2+ hours
  • Put leftovers in the fridge after the food has cooled
  • Eat leftovers within two to three days
  • Read more about food safety

Being sun smart

If you have to go outside into the heat, follow a few recommendations from the Cancer Council NSW:

  • Learn to understand the UV index (when the UV index is 3 or above we need to protect the skin from sun damage)
  • Wear protective clothing (clothing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your skin)
  • Apply sunscreen (choose a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen which is at least SPF 30)
  • Wear a hat (wear a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire-style hat for the best protection)
  • Seek shade
  • Wear sunglasses (protect your eyes properly with close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses)


Checklist for older people

Before a heatwave

  • Assess which care recipients are at risk – who has limited capacity to keep cool; or which areas of the facility are prone to being hot
  • Ensure entry/exit points can be monitored
  • Ensure cooling systems in the home are adequate and working effectively
  • Ensure alternative forms of fluid, such as jelly, ice-cream or fruit juice blocks are available

During a heatwave

  • Ensure the temperature in care recipients’ rooms are comfortable, keeping curtains and blinds closed to reduce excess heat
  • Monitor entry/exit points to avoid the unsupervised departure of care recipients during extreme heat events
  • Be aware care recipients may be at particular risk following high overnight temperatures
  • Ensure small amounts of fluids are readily available, rather than large amounts of fluids less frequently
  • Avoid serving caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
  • Provide care recipients with frequent small meals
  • Help care recipients to keep skin covered when exposed to direct sunlight and to wear loose fitting clothing
  • Avoid taking care recipients outside between 11am and 3pm
  • Offer tepid showers or sponging
  • Look for signs of heat stress, such as nausea or changes in appearance including red, pale or severely dry skin
  • Ask for a clinical assessment if care recipient shows any signs of deterioration


Caring for pets

Our pets are part of the family, and they feel the heat as much as us. The most common summer risks for pets are: overheating; sunburn; dehydration; stroke. Follow some simple steps to ensure they are safe and comfortable during hot weather.

  • Provide plenty of water and shade
  • Know the signs of overheating:
  • Heavy panting
  • Dry or bright red gums
  • Thick drool
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Wobbly legs
  • Never leave your pet in the car (it can take less than 10 minutes to develop heat stroke in dogs and cats inside a hot vehicle)
  • Apply sunscreen (pets get sunburns too, especially those with short or light hair coats; apply pet sunscreen only)
  • Don’t shave your pet (a pet’s coat is naturally designed to keep it cool during the summer and warm in the winter; trim but never shave)
  • Mind your walking hours (don’t walk your pet in the heat of the day; consider early morning and late evening)
  • Keep your dog’s paws cool (try to keep your pet’s paws off concrete, bitumen and other hot surfaces)
  • Keep parasites off (In summer, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites are everywhere)


Resources to help you prepare for a heatwave

Find more information on preparing for a heatwave and learn how heatwaves can impact chronic conditions and medications.

Download Your health matters in a disaster flyer, five simple steps to help prepare you if a disaster occurs.

16 November 2023

Eligible patients can now apply online for the Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS).

CAPS is an Australian Government program which helps people over five years old who experience permanent and severe incontinence to cover some of the costs of buying continence products.

The new online application is available through the individual’s Medicare account on myGov or in the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.

Patients still have the option to use the existing CAPS application guidelines and application form, which can be downloaded or ordered from the Department of Health and Aged Care.

If someone else is applying on behalf of a patient, their representative must use the paper form.

Even if a patient applies online, they still need a registered health professional (such as a GP) to complete the health report section using the paper form.

The patient will then need to upload the report to their online application through their Medicare online account.

Please inform your eligible patients of the new online application process.

More information can be found at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/caps and the department’s website.

21 September 2023

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of Otitis Media and associated hearing loss in the world.

Otitis Media is commonly known as ‘glue ear’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Left untreated, these conditions are directly linked to serious and long-term deficits. These include poor medical health, delayed communication and social skill development, challenging behaviour and learning difficulties.

With the COVID-19 lockdowns behind us, now is the time to complete crucial checks for children including:

  • regular ear checks
  • hearing assessments
  • onward referrals to ENTs / audiologists
Information for families


This article was written by members of the ‘Stronger Seeds, Taller Trees’ project which includes professionals from a number of government and non-government organisations in South Western Sydney. The group aims to support GPs working with families to navigate and access timely services when they have a concern about a child’s development.