Collaborating to build inclusive playground

Partnerships with community organisations have been key in the City of Nedlands preparations to build an inclusive, all-abilities playground. 

The City, situated in Perth’s leafy Western Suburbs, is about to embark on the ambitious project, building on what the designer has described as “the best playground site in Australia”.

The City is partnering with four local Rotary clubs to build the play space at Beaton Park, on the banks of the Swan River in Dalkeith.
The play space will be a beacon for accessibility and inclusion, catering to people with disability and also to people of all ages – adults, teenagers and seniors, as well as kids.

The City’s Parks department has been heavily involved from the initiation of the project, back in 2011. Representatives from a number of Rotary clubs had approached the City to see if it was interested in partnering with them to progress further.

The City had already been thinking about an accessible playground and set aside some funds towards redeveloping an existing playground into an accessible one. By happy coincidence, around the same time, the Rotary clubs approached the City and a project team was assembled.

Extensive community consultation was undertaken, and the project team started thinking bigger – building a playground on a regional scale.

A project team consisting of the Rotary clubs, the City’s Parks Services and Technical Services and Community Development departments, worked out project milestones and an indicative budget, based on how much Rotary thought it could raise through private sponsorship. A significant difference with this project to others is the close collaboration between the organisation’s business units.

Andrew Dickson, Manager Parks Services, and Daniel Lewis, Parks Projects Coordinator, were involved from the start. Mr Dickson is the project manager of construction.

“It quickly became evident to me that one of the key risks to the project was not having a mechanism that would allow a flexible approach to designing and delivering it in order to address the degree of funding uncertainty,” Mr Dickson said.

The decision was made to stage the project, so it could be designed and constructed as funds were raised. This meant that if funding targets were not achieved, a play space could be built that was complete in its own right, even if further stages were not realised. It would still accommodate additional development seamlessly into the facility when more funds were raised.

A Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up in 2013 to define the roles the Rotary clubs and the City of Nedlands would take.

The All Abilities Play Space project aims to strengthen families and the community, by establishing a safe space that provides learning opportunities and enables people of all generations to relax, socialise and play.

Almost all the established trees will remain and more planting will be done, making the play space a shady sanctuary during the hot Perth summer.

Construction is due to start in late 2016.