Public-private charity: playground breaks ground

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In 2012 a group of Canberra public servants devised an ambitious all-abilities playground for the city. Fundraising and high-level bureaucratic support made it happen.

For a city not known for its hometown pride, Canberra’s centenary last year inspired plenty of spirit. Plans for commemorative projects were hatched all over the ACT, from the obligatory cocktail, local wine blends and printed tea towels to the extravagant yet oddly enchanting beast that is the Skywhale.

The desire to mark the occasion was shared by Natalie Howson, director-general of the ACT Community Services Directorate, who thought local and federal public servants should chip in and get Canberra something nice.

“I asked my staff for ideas about what sort of gift they thought would be appropriate, and it was actually one of my colleagues who came up with the idea of an all-abilities children’s playground, where children with any disability can play on the same equipment as all other children,” she told The Mandarin. “And that really resonated with my department, because we work in community services and support people with disabilities.”

It was apparent this was a rather large undertaking, but they were undaunted. “We thought that if we could actually mobilise the interest of all the public servants that live here in Canberra, we would be able to deliver it,” Howson said.

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