Page 5361 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

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and Pearce neighbourhood playgrounds. I particularly acknowledge the principal petitioner, Natalia, for raising these issues.

The playground facilities for the children of Torrens and the wider Woden Valley are a particularly important issue for me. I spent most of my childhood living in Torrens and playing on this equipment myself, and I have an interest in early childhood development policy more broadly. It is important for the ACT government to ensure that Canberrans have access to playgrounds and parks and that they are properly maintained.

As the 2015 ACT government study A picture of ACT’s children and young people found, the number of ACT residents who regularly visit neighbourhood parks is increasing significantly. This shows that our playgrounds are very popular, and the continued maintenance of the territory’s playgrounds is an important priority to support children’s development and wellbeing.

Across many academic studies, it has been shown that children benefit from having access to playgrounds in terms of their long-term development, particularly their physical development. As part of the consultation informing the ACT children’s plan, local children were asked what they wanted from a playground. Their response was very clear, very simple: they want modern, clean playground spaces within walking distance of home.

According to the Australian early development census, in Torrens there is a lower than average level of vulnerability amongst children in the physical development domain. That is promising, but it is perhaps because Torrens has quite a few playgrounds. It is important that we make sure that they are maintained and continue to be accessible for families in the area. Pearce has a slightly higher level of vulnerability. It has, I suspect, fewer playgrounds and people potentially may utilise those in Torrens.

As the discussion continues on the better suburbs consultation, I have heard from the community that it is important that playgrounds take into consideration the requirements of today’s children and not solely be prefabricated playgrounds isolated from their surrounds but include natural play spaces that encourage a stronger appreciation of and connectedness with the territory’s natural bush environment. Also, I have heard of the importance of having them closer to shops.

Again, I would like to thank the community in Torrens and Pearce, particularly the principal petitioner, Natalia, for raising this important issue in the Assembly. I look forward to seeing the government’s response.

Lake Burley Griffin and surrounds—petition 30-17

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (10.16), by leave: The West Basin petition, signed by 749 Canberra residents, comes from a very active community group here in the ACT, the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians. The Guardians are a not-for-profit group committed to safeguarding one of Canberra’s greatest treasures, the open space of Lake Burley Griffin and its lakeshore landscape setting.

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