Tuesday 27 November 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council

 Children's Playgrounds


[11.21 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, playgrounds have always been important for our kids but in this day and age there are vital.  Some of us remember very different childhoods than children experience today.  We climbed trees, we walked or rode our bikes to school, we took physical risks every day and we learned from them.  Well, we are here to tell the story anyway. 

Nowadays people reach their 20s with little idea about assessing risk because they have never been exposed to it.  Playgrounds can help and kids can seemingly be exposed to physical risk while still being safe.  There have been tremendous developments in playground design; some of us saw playgrounds as simply monkey bars, slides and swings, but things have changed.

The Launceston City Council has recognised this and has two important projects underway.  In my electorate of Rosevears, one playground project is in Cataract Gorge between the First Basin swimming pool and the kiosk.  Because of the need to stay above the flood level and create better access to the built amenity, the site has been raised.

Barry Pickett, the Natural Environment Manager at the council, says the play experience has been designed to be as engaging and inclusive as possible, with features such as a stone-seeded creek bed with a water pump and opportunities for kids to create dams.  This site will be full of native plants so instead of swinging and sliding, kids can engage with the natural environment.  Who would have thought a creek with stones could be a playground feature?  When we were kids or maybe as kids from the east coast and kids from Ferntree, we had such things naturally as our playground.

Coincidentally, the landscaping firm creating this playground is the same one that worked on Parliament Square, so members can interpret that how they like. 

The second Launceston playground development is the site near the new Silo Hotel just near the junction of the North Esk River with the Tamar.  It is called Riverbend and it is a quite spectacular area.  It will be called Northbank Park and it will occupy more than three hectares and cost $6 million - what an investment.

The important feature will be a sky walk, a vast overhead net designed and made in Germany on which kids can climb as we used to do on trees but without risk of falling or injury.  A smaller version of such a climbing facility has been installed in a playground at Bridport and is a constant topic of conversation.  We may yet save our kids from couches and electronic devices.

The Northbank Park has tremendous potential because it is close to retail outlets like Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks so parents can do a bit of retail shopping for their goodies while the kids can play.  Part of the whole development is the bridge connecting the play area to the south side of the North Esk River.

These two Launceston play area projects have great potential to save our kids from sedentary and perhaps unhealthy life in front of electronic screens - to be outside where they can take physical risks safely and learn how to assess them when they grow up.

We need to give access to projects like these to all Tasmanian kids, but I salute the Launceston City Council for these two initiatives.