Case studies
Photo by Bryony Jackson


Arts House Melbourne

For six years, Arts House Melbourne’s annual Refuge program has imagined how we might prepare in the face of a disaster.

From droughts to floods, mass displacements to pandemics and heatwaves, Refuge was never just a hypothetical. For the final instalment in this long look at climate crisis, Arts House invited emergency experts, artists, scientists and deep thinkers from a broad range of communities to share knowledge, experience and tradition together, with the community of North Melbourne and beyond.

Refuge drops us in the hot zone of different climate-related disasters. Flood, heat, pandemic and displacement: this six-year project offers us new ways to rally as a community and prepare for climate crisis.

Since 2016, Refuge has brought together people who might not normally collaborate in a crisis – local residents, artists, scientists, Elders and experts from the world of emergency services. Their task is to identify what matters when the unthinkable becomes real: what being prepared means in the face of disaster, how the survival of the individual is inextricably bound up with the survival of community, and what role we can each play.

Refuge promotes new ways to ground equity, access, dignity and hope in our response to catastrophe through a creative approach.

In 2016, Refuge imagined a local flood and transformed the North Melbourne Town Hall into a relief centre for 24 hours.

In 2017, Refuge envisaged the increasing possibility of five consecutive days over 40°C.

In 2018, Refuge examined a pandemic event and what happens when the risk of contagion means you would never bring people together.

In 2019, Refuge examined displacement prompted by climate crisis.

In 2021, Refuge asked what happens when these crises meet.


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