Page 4306 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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Children and young people—neighbourhood playgrounds

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (3.36): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) the importance of local suburban playgrounds to families;

(b) that they are a core municipal service and maintenance is paramount; and

(c) that they promote active lifestyles for children and adults; and

(2) calls on the Government to publish progress of the playground upgrade strategy and the criteria used to assess playgrounds.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak on the motion that I have put about the importance of local suburban playgrounds to families, the benefit to the lifestyles of children and families and the importance of their maintenance as a core municipal service.

Playgrounds are vital to mental health for many parents, carers and young children and to the development of networks for people across Canberra. Some playgrounds are in need of an upgrade, and at least a few should be properly fenced so that mums, dad and carers can have a chance to put their burdens to one side and take a break while watching their children play in safety.

What these playgrounds need is a mum’s touch, and I am happy to assist. We do have a lot of children’s parks in Canberra. Many of them are really good. Canberra was designed to have these playgrounds in the centre of suburbs so that families could easily walk to them. A local suburban playground should be designed to be easy to walk to where possible. A local suburban playground should be a place of fun for the family—a place that a mum or dad can walk to with their kids; where the kids can play freely, where they can swing, climb and slide; where kids can develop important skills like self-confidence as they are learning to balance and learning to develop strength and agility; and, of course, where kids can conquer fears as they take on the slide for the first time.

However, there are three key issues I would like to address. The first is that some playgrounds may seem unimportant because they are small, but they are no longer a community benefit if they have peeling paint, if they are looking run down, if they have a neglected feel. I am constantly talking about the dilapidated look of some of our suburban areas. It is not just children’s activities that are encouraged by well-designed playgrounds but parents’ and carers’ mental health and their ability to cope with what is sometimes a very challenging role. I am aware that the ACT government carefully monitors the safety of equipment, and I am not complaining about issues of safety. But peeling paint or inadequate equipment can leave people less inclined to visit playgrounds as they have a tired and neglected feel or are somewhat sad looking.

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