Page 4309 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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memorial park in Belconnen, which has just had an upgrade of the popular “snake house”, and Yerrabi district park in Gungahlin, which has just had its flying fox repaired. In addition, the National Arboretum opened its fantastic pod playground this winter, with giant acorns and banksia cone cubbyhouses. This playground has quickly become one of the most popular spots in town on the weekend with many of Canberra’s families. All reports are that it is, frankly, hard to get in there as it is so popular.

This park hierarchy has culminated in the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate currently managing 507 playgrounds. However, TAMS is not the only directorate to build and manage playgrounds in the ACT. The Economic Development Directorate also design and manage recreational spaces and have created a new model of recreational space referred to as community irrigated recreational parks. These community parks are a smaller park, generally containing barbecues, a half-size basketball court and seating. The first of these parks is located in Crace, with the next one being constructed in Franklin.

The education directorate also manages playgrounds within schools and the Community Services Directorate also has some playgrounds on some of its Housing ACT properties. I also note that TAMS has a number of playgrounds which cater for children of all abilities. Of course, there is major fundraising going on to create Boundless, a purpose-built, all-abilities playground which will be in Grevillea park and will be designed for a range of ages and developmental stages.

The ACT government has consistently provided for playgrounds across Canberra in new suburbs and by maintaining playgrounds built long before self-government. I think we all agree that suburban playgrounds are important to families in Canberra. Of course they are—that is what many people love about Canberra compared to highly industrialised cities. It is one of the reasons people always say that Canberra is a great place to bring up children.

TAMS has a regular program of playground safety inspections which incorporate assessing maintenance, vandalism or cleanliness issues across the 507 playgrounds. All ACT public spaces were designed and built in line with the Australian and ACT standards for play spaces in effect at the time of building. Regular routine maintenance checks are undertaken on all play spaces to make sure they are safe and fit for play. These inspections are done on three levels: weekly checks in high use areas and fortnightly checks in low use areas; monthly or bimonthly mechanical soundness checks; and biannual independent safety audits. Any problems found during the regular checks are dealt with accordingly. There is also a rigorous response system for complaints through Canberra Connect and fix my street.

Playground renewals occur through the playground safety program. The program is an ongoing capital works program that renews ACT public play spaces in line with current Australian and ACT standards. It uses best practice contemporary play space design to ensure the renewed play spaces are safe yet fun and modern, to suit the children that they target.

Community input is the other main contributing factor that determines the end result of a playground renewal. Community consultation is routinely undertaken each time a

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