Page 180 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 11 February 2015

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Playgrounds are the places people go to to let the kids run around, to explore, to get fresh air and to run off their energy. As a welcome circuit breaker, I have said many times in the middle of a barney, or a brewing barney, “Right, then; we’re off to the playground.” I have almost never had a “No.” But it is not just about the physical activity, as important as that is. The spontaneous nature of kids playing naturally with each other often sparks friendships and connections for parents. From my time at home with young kids, I know just how important these moments can be in getting through a day and getting through a week. I am sure many of these have resulted in enduring friendships between kids and parents.

On a city level, our open spaces and our playgrounds are one of the reasons that people say Canberra is such a great place to bring up kids. Playgrounds, including our skate parks, are a significant part of Canberra’s open space network and have been since the creation of the city. At a territory level, the way that playgrounds have been designed is to match their location—for example, small play areas at local neighbourhood parks, larger play spaces at central community parks and major play areas at district parks. The high-use district parks also have complementary facilities such as toilets and barbecues.

I asked some people today about their favourite playgrounds in the city and heard back from some people. From Tara Cheyne: she loves John Knight Memorial Park. From Karen Green: “The adventure playground at Tidbinbilla, especially the water play!” From Mark Scarborough in Gungahlin: “Forde is good …Yerrabi and Springbank Rise because they have shade sails.” From Ian Hetherington: “The Gungahlin town park.” From Kylie Beer: “It was great to see a shade sail going in at Pod playground … can we get some shade sail at Boundless too?” From Cal Bruton: “Yerrabi pond and Gungahlin College.”

Can I talk briefly about some of the playgrounds in my own local community, from the big ones to the little ones. From the large district playground at Yerrabi pond, a great playground that has a skate park, flying foxes, barbecues and picnic tables—most days, especially on the weekends, they are full and bustling, sometimes staked out early in the day for a community gathering—to the new and innovative approach to playgrounds that Minister Rattenbury mentioned, the community recreation irrigated park. The one at Crace is a magnet for kids and for grown-ups. The kids can play and grown-ups can use the exercise equipment. Everyone is running around. I see construction underway at Franklin and I am looking forward to more of these parks across the city. And the small playgrounds in our older suburbs and in our newer suburbs—from the lovely playground at the Platypus centre at Ngunnawal, which holds the paint and play weekly, to newer playgrounds in Bonner and Franklin where new residents meet one another. They encourage activity and active lifestyles, and they encourage community.

I agree that maintenance is important. I know that TAMS conduct a regular program of inspections, and they are often undertaken at different levels, as Minister Rattenbury said—weekly in high-use areas, fortnightly in medium-use areas and monthly or quarterly in low-use areas. This information is available for each type of playground and can be made publicly available to the Canberra community. There is

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