A new Macarthur region inclusive playground will set the standard across the state in a move that will get the thumbs up from more than one million NSW residents with disabilities.
Civic Park, Warragamba was the only Sydney play space to receive funding as part of the State Government’s initial injection of $750,000 to pave the way for playgrounds everyone in the community can use.
The Wollondilly Shire playground was successful in its application for funding to help it go from the design phase to construction.
Thanks to the $350,000 grant, the Warragamba play space will incorporate universal design principles to ensure everyone is able to enjoy its facilities and equipment safely and inclusively.
Other play spaces across NSW will need to meet the standard set by Civic Park by catering for all people, including disabled and able-bodied children, and their carers.
The State Member for Wollondilly, Jai Rowell, who helped secure the grant, was delighted with the successful outcome.
“I’m extremely pleased that one of our own local playgrounds is helping to set the standard for play spaces that children of all abilities can enjoy together,” Mr Rowell said.
The universal design principles adopted at Civic Park, Warragamba were inspired by the Touched by Olivia Foundation.
After losing their eight-month-old daughter Olivia to a rare disease in 2006, John and Justine Perkins felt compelled to transform their tragedy into a positive for others and create a lasting legacy in their daughter’s memory.
During Olivia’s illness, the Perkins’ realised that many children, including children with disabilities, are not always afforded the basic human right to play with others.
They decided the cornerstone of Olivia’s legacy must be borne out of play for all, where everybody can belong, regardless of difference, through inclusive play spaces.
NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said there were more than 1.3 million people in NSW who lived with a disability or added needs.
“We are a government that cares about its community and that’s why we want to ensure open space, parks, outdoor recreation areas and play spaces are able to be enjoyed by everybody equally,” Mr Roberts said.
The NSW Government is introducing a clear set of playground and park design guidelines for councils and developers to follow, that will provide facilities for kids with challenges and the elderly, parents, children and support carers access to any play spaces or parks in NSW with ease.
“The playgrounds will be truly inclusive, for example, by having wheel-on carousels for children using wheelchairs, or shaded seating areas for disabled parents and ramp access for elderly people using motorised scooters,” Mr Roberts said.
Bec Ho, director of Touched by Olivia welcomed the review and the establishment of a set of guidelines on inclusive play spaces.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to develop and play, irrespective of their ability or added needs,” Ms Ho said.
“Playing is how children learn and grow and our play spaces are important places in our community that bring people together and contribute to our sense of belonging.
“Over 20 per cent of Australians are disadvantaged by not being able to enjoy the basic joy of visiting a playground freely.
All playgrounds in NSW will be reviewed as part of an in-depth audit that will see them assessed and rated against universal design principles
A retrospective review of the existing playgrounds across NSW will determine what work needs to be done to ensure people of all abilities have the same level of accessibility to play and will identify opportunities for improvements to play spaces.
The department will undertake preliminary targeted consultation with councils and industry stakeholders prior to seeking public feedback from the community before finalising its guidelines and policies for universally designed play spaces next year.