SA seeks input on accessible playgrounds for children with disabilities

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday September 3, 2019

Canberra’s Boundless Playground. Source: VisitCanberra

The South Australian Government has encouraged locals to have their say on new plans to make playgrounds more accessible and inclusive for all children.

While play is a key builder of social skills, independence, creativity, and spatial awareness, children with disabilities can struggle to use playgrounds and community spaces, according to Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink. But the state government wants to change that.

“Inclusive playgrounds are specifically designed playgrounds to be used by people with a wide range of disabilities, which may include mobility, vision, and hearing impairment and autism,” she said.

“The finalised inclusive play guidelines will be a tool for local government and other agencies to use when creating playgrounds and playspaces to ensure children or parents and carers with disability are included and their needs considered.”

Lensink said it is important to consider accessibility when designing and building public spaces, and has urged locals to have their say via an online survey, which is open until 27 September. The guidelines will be finalised this year.

“Our inclusive play online survey includes questions about planning, so everyone can easily find their way around playspaces, design features and equipment to encourage children to play together,” she said.

Perhaps SA could take a leaf out of Canberra’s book. In 2013, a staffer from the ACT Community Services Directorate put forward an idea to install an inclusive playground.

Canberra’s Boundless Playground was a chance for local public servants to give back to the community as volunteers, rather than employees. The project garnered huge support from the senior levels of the APS, private and not-for-profit sectors, and the community as a whole.

Former director-general of the ACT Community Services Directorate Natalie Howson told The Mandarin that feedback from families with children with disabilities had been extremely positive.

“They’ve got a safe environment for their children to play in, and if they’ve got siblings, they can all play in the same playground. The child with a disability doesn’t have to sit at the side and watch,” she said in 2014.

Last year, Boundless was named the most popular park in Canberra.

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