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

Refuge brings together people who might not normally collaborate in a crisis, including 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 if the worst comes to pass.

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

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

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

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

For the next two years we prepare for displacement prompted by climate crisis. In 2019, we begin on our own doorstep, taking the lead from First Nations people and our newly arrived community to ask: if North Melbourne was evacuated, what would you do? What skills, knowledge and relationships can ensure we are prepared?

In 2020 we leap into a foreseeable future to consider displacement of our regional neighbours in the Pacific. How can we share resources in times of hardship when the worst comes to pass? Taking the lead from artist Latai Taumoepeau, Refuge 2020 explores displacement as a humanitarian crisis and directs our focus towards culture, spirituality, relationships and ritual.

Come to North Melbourne Town Hall this Refuge to find your place in this crisis. Walk out with a plan.


For all Refuge enquiries or to find out how to get involved, please contact the Refuge team at Arts House by emailing Sarah Rowbottam or call (03) 9322 3720.

2019 Refuge Artists

Keg de Souza and Claire G. Coleman
Jen Rae and Giant Grass
Seini Taumoepeau and guests
Kate Sulan and Red Cross
Lorna Hannan
Cassie Lynch
Laniyuk Garcon-Mills
Monica Karo
Timmah Ball
Davey Thompson

Download the Refuge 2019: Displacement guide

2018 Refuge Artists
Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey
Lee Shang Lun
Jen Rae
Kate Sulan
Ellen van Neerven
Latai Taumoepeau
Lorna Hannan
Michele Lee

2017 Refuge Artists
Asha Bee Abraham
Lorna Hannan
Emily Johnson & Vicki Couzens
Dave Jones
Jen Rae
Latai Taumoepeau

View the Refuge: Heatwave publication
Warning this is (not) a Drill Refuge Catalogue

2016 Refuge Artists
Jen Rae & Dawn Weleski
Latai Taumoepeau
Hannah Donnelley
Kate Sulan
Lee Shang Lun
Lorna Hannan

Project Partners
In 2017 and 2018 Refuge is supported with funding provided by the Australian Government in partnership with the States and Territories under the National Partnership Agreement for National Disaster Resilience and the Victorian Government through the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme (NDRGS); by the Australian Government through the Australian Council, its arts and funding advisory body and by the University of Melbourne. In 2017 Refuge is also supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

Refuge supporting partners
Emergency Management Victoria
Resilient Melbourne
Red Cross Australia
SES Footscray Division
St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre
Creative Recovery Network

Participating artists and friends include Jen Rae, Latai Taumoepeau, Vicki Couzens, Emily Johnson, Lorna Hannan, Asha Bee Abraham, Dave Jones, Hannah Donnelley, Lee Shang Lun, Greg Pritchard, Jillian Pearce, Kate Sulan and Dawn Weleski.

Image by – Bryony Jackson