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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2370 ..

Waramanga playground—government response

Ministerial statement

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (11.10): It is a pleasure to report back to the Assembly today on the government’s response after the motion of 21 March this year. I recall at the time of the motion that a robust debate ensued in which the value and importance of playgrounds to the community was well illustrated, as was the government’s track record in managing the very large number of playgrounds we have across our city. I was also pleased that the debate went beyond the somewhat simplistic and narrow considerations of local interests and extended to an intelligent debate about prioritisation and where our finite resources are best placed to serve the community across many competing priorities.

This government understands the important role community play spaces have in the development of children, such as the many health benefits associated with exercise, the development of social skills and connecting with the natural environment. Importantly, play spaces also provide a social space for parents and carers, and we want to ensure our playgrounds are in places that are of benefit to the community.

In this year’s budget we have committed $310,000 for the adopt-a-park program commencing in 2019-20. This program will be carefully designed in the coming year and ready to roll out next financial year. The government also allocated $1.9 million in 2018-19 as part of the better infrastructure fund for community and neighbourhood priorities. As I will explain, these funds will primarily be allocated to improve our play spaces, with extensive community input.

The government recognises the need to better engage the community and take more meaningful approaches that tap into the experience and skills of our community to inform our decision-making. We also recognise that the delivery of city services is very much at the forefront of interest for many in the community and that every Canberran uses a range of city services every day.

We have implemented an innovative and challenging community engagement process through the better suburbs program, which will inform the delivery of future city services in Canberra. A citizens forum commenced on 21 July and will continue into August to develop a community authored better suburbs statement to set the vision and priorities for the improved delivery of city services in the ACT to 2030.

As part of this citizens forum, on Sunday 19 August better suburbs will also host a one-day play spaces forum. The intention is that this forum will be the beginning of a new phase in community decision-making about play spaces in our city. The play spaces forum is a type of deliberative engagement, with participants coming together for a period of time, being given credible and reliable information on the topic under review, discussing and deliberating the subject at length and arriving at a shared view on the way forward.

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