Tuesday 23 May 2017
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Recreational Planning - People with Disabilities


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I offer my congratulations to the member for Launceston and the member for Murchison for good strong campaigns and for their re-election to the House.  I wish the new member for Rumney well in her career here in the Legislative Council.  Congratulations.

Recreational planners have long been aware of the health and exercise aspects of planning spaces such as playgrounds and bike and pedestrian routes, but a new need is becoming apparent:  easy access to recreational space for people with disabilities.  This especially applies to children.

It has become apparent recently that there is currently limited access to the so-called 'all-access' playgrounds in northern Tasmania especially in my electorate of Rosevears on the West Tamar.

The West Tamar Lions Club has identified the need for better playground access.  They have set about to raise funds, along with other community groups, to create these all-access playgrounds, including playgrounds in the Beaconsfield area.

What constitutes an accessible playground?  There must be wheelchair access and the equipment should make it as easy as possible for everyone to play regardless of their abilities or disabilities.  For example, siblings with or without disabilities can in fact play together.  A letter supporting the West Tamar Lions Club initiative from the mother of a son with a brain injury really sums up this problem.  I will just quote from the letter -

Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about my playground experiences on the West Tamar with a disabled child.  My son, as a result of a brain injury acquired before or during birth is autistic and suffers from uncontrolled epilepsy.

From when he finally learnt to crawl and then walk, he has loved to visit playgrounds.  We frequented both the Riverside Tailrace Park and Gravelly Beach Rose Bay Park recently.  More recently these parks have been redeveloped much to the delight of able bodied children.  Unfortunately, our son can only watch from the sidelines as most of the equipment is inaccessible to him.  He cannot support his own body weight, so climbing ladders/frames and flying foxes are out of the question.  Unfortunately, this also excludes the slides. 

He can sit on the spinning round-abouts with some support, but if other children are using it and spinning vigorously, our child doesn't have the strength to hang on and gets thrown to the ground. 

My dream would be to see a playground with some ramps, tunnels and perhaps some larger slides, not tall but wide enough that a parent or carer can help a disabled child go down.  Even a wheelchair accessible swing?

I can understand the playgrounds need to be redeveloped to meet current safety standards, but it would be greatly appreciated if they could at least be designed to consider accessibility for the less able in our society.

That is Dianne Maynard's letter to the West Tamar Lions Club. 

The club's plan for fully accessible playgrounds includes one at Gravelly Beach, Rose Bay to be built alongside the existing playground at a cost of between $100 000 and $150 000.  It will have ramps, tunnels, double slides, a wheelchair-accessible swing, sensory boards and a supported swing.

At Beaconsfield and Beauty Point there are plans for one or two individual accessible playground items such as a merry-go-round for wheelchairs.  Wheelchair access problems in our cities and elsewhere are at least being addressed.  It is great news that something is being done to give kids with disabilities access to playgrounds.  I am very pleased that is occurring in my electorate of Rosevears.