This month Council is set to consider the installation of inclusive play equipment in four of the City’s parks. Sydney Park (St Peters), Federal Park (Glebe), Bank Street (Pyrmont) and Wentworth Park (Glebe) have been identified as priority parks for an inclusive play re-design. The goal of inclusive play is to provide children of all ability levels at least one activity that they can take part in. While a number of City parks cater for children with mild to moderate disabilities there are less opportunities on offer for children with more severe disabilities. Data tells us that more than half of all children with disabilities are classed as severe or profoundly disabled. The Inclusive Play Report has provided Council with a list of short and longer term recommendations for improving our parks.
This report follows on from a proposal that Pyrmont locals brought me last year which I took to Council last December to have a Liberty swing installed at Pirrama Park. While I was disappointed that Council did not support the proposal, the resulting Inclusive Play Report has instead proposed the installation of a wheelchair accessible spinner. The spinner is preferable to the swing because it can be incorporated into the existing playground and can simultaneously cater for children of all abilities. The spinner allows for up to three children to use it at any one time. The Liberty Swing was not considered suitable because it requires separate fencing and could not be installed within the current play equipment setting in the park. Members of the Pyrmont community that were behind the initial proposal have indicated their strong support for the spinner.
The report has included the Liberty Swing amongst the options for other City parks to undergo a redesign. However the report ignores the recommendation of the City’s Inclusion (Disability) Panel that the Liberty Swing not be installed in any park in the LGA. It is vitally important that the City listens to the recommendations of its own advisory panel. I want to ensure that the City’s advisory panels in this area and others are not merely a PR exercise in inclusion but are readily able to influence Council’s policies and activities. I will be keeping a close eye on this issue as further consultation takes place around the park design.