What's On

Presented by Arts House

Refuge Emergency Relief Centre
12 noon–10pm, Sat 11 Nov
FREE. No bookings required. All ages.

Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Part of this event is accessible via Auslan and an Audio Description Tour. Please contact Arts House regarding specific access needs

If you are interested in volunteering at Refuge please contact Arts House for more information.

Join us and take Refuge as we transform Arts House – a City of Melbourne designated Emergency Relief Centre – into a place of safety.

Refuge explores the role of artists and cultural institutions in times of climate catastrophe. Each year until 2020, we’re bringing together emergency management, artists, the community and local, regional and international partners, to prepare Arts House as a Relief Centre for 24 hours, in an imagined climate disaster.  In 2016, we imagined a local flood and transformed the North Melbourne Town Hall into a Relief Centre for 24 hours. This year we envisage the increasing possibility of five consecutive days over 40°C.

The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology predict that by 2070 the number of days over 35 degrees in Melbourne will more than double from an average of eight a year, to 17. How can we build resilience, connect and respond in inclusive, ethical and humane ways?

In times like these what’s our most precious resource? The kindness of strangers? Each other? A plan? What skills do we have? Come and help us make a Refuge, collaborating alongside artists and emergency services.

At the heart of Refuge is our Emergency Relief Centre, where artists, emergency services and you – our community – come together to start conversations, dream up ideas and forge possible futures.  On Saturday 11 November, spend the afternoon or evening at the Emergency Relief Centre.  Take part in artistic interventions, meet with organisations including Red Cross Australia, the Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) and others, and join in conversation sessions, performances and collaborations.

To fully experience Refuge’s immersive emergency scenario, you can sign up for the Refuge 24-Hour Exercise, from midday Saturday 11 November until midday the following day.  The Refuge 24-Hour Exercise includes a sleepover at Arts House – but this is no slumber party! You’ll need to be ready to help run the relief centre alongside volunteers, artists and others. It’s an exercise in preparation, mutual aid and creative response!

Each of our Refuge artists explores a particular element within the Emergency Relief Centre – sleep, communications, light and warmth, food, wellbeing or community. Here’s some of what you’ll experience throughout the day and night…

Asha Bee Abraham
Reaching out to loved ones or the vulnerable, staying connected, or building morale in an emergency – Contact draws on artistic and activist tactics to expand the ways we communicate in crisis situations.

Lorna Hannan
Crow’s Corner
Come and chat about challenges we face and how to make change! Named for North Melbourne activist, humanitarian and environmentalist Ruth Crow AM (1916–99), Crow’s Corner is conversation-as-action, over a cup of specially blended Ruth Crow tea.

Emily Johnson & Vicki Couzens
Redreaming our being through healing, rest and sleep – this is an encouragement to redream ourselves into a future, and from catastrophe into health. Join the overnight component of Refuge with artists Vicki Couzens and Emily Johnson to come together in a space where the anthropocentric experience of climate change is decentred; and where animals, plants, multiplicities of knowledge are heard, shared and viscerally experienced.


Dave Jones
In a tactile exploration of an extreme-heat scenario, a team of young collaborators construct a room-sized model apartment block and subject it to a halogen heatwave. As the space heats up, how will residents respond?

Jen Rae
Future Proof by Fair Share Fare
Building on survival skills of food foraging, harvesting, preparing and preserving, Future Proofincludes DIY workshops, demonstrations and exercises to boost collective know-how for crisis scenarios. The proof is in the pudding!

Latai Taumoepeau
HG57 (Human Generator 57)
In the Tongan language, maāma means light and māfana means warmth. These concepts are the basis for HG57, a participatory performance that generates expanded ideas of inner warmth, drawing from ordinary daily fitness rituals. These projects will sit alongside a range of workshops, information sessions and emergency preparedness activities run by Red Cross Australia, Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) and other emergency services and community partners. Drop in on Saturday 11 November to take part.

Supported by – Refuge is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and the University of Melbourne.

Refuge supporting partners are Emergency Management Victoria, Red Cross Australia, SES Footscray Division, The Huddle at The North Melbourne Football Club, the University of Melbourne’s Research Unit in Public Cultures, Resilient Melbourne, ACTNatimuk, Nati Frinj Biennale, Creative Recovery Network and Horsham Rural City Council.

Participating artists and friends include:  Hannah Donnelley, Lee Shang Lun, Greg Pritchard, Jillian Pearce, Kate Sulan and Dawn Weleski.