Everyone’s play space at Victoria Park | ourballarat autumn 2022
With air-jumpers and a double flying fox, Ballarat’s Victoria Park Inclusive Play Space is 10,000 fenced square metres of award-winning fun for all. The City of Ballarat continues to work with the community to develop this much-loved play space for those with and without disability.
A place for everyone
Around 20,000 Ballarat people live with a disability.
This is a large part of our community and thanks to the City of Ballarat’s Disability Advisory Committee, they are having their ideas and feedback heard.
What began as an idea in 2013 with the Disability Advisory Committee and supported by the charity group ‘Touched by Olivia’ and local community and business partners, resulted in the creation of a play space that everyone can enjoy.
The Inclusive Play Space now attracts around 140,000 people a year.
The swings, spinners, water play, slides and double flying fox allow everyone to enjoy a wide range of play experiences alongside or with others.
The recent addition of air jumpers also caters for the entire family, including wheelchair users. Ballarat mum and Disability Advisory Committee member Rebecca Paton came up with the initial idea after visiting the first ‘Livvi’s Place’ inclusive play space on a trip to Sydney in 2012.
“Visiting the park was an inspiration. For the first time, my two daughters could play together in a park designed for exactly that,” Bec says.
“Sarah has a rare syndrome that has resulted in severe physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities for her. The park enabled both my girls to enjoy the play equipment together, and I thought, others need to experience this at home in Ballarat.”
Upon her return from Sydney, Rebecca raised the idea with the Disability Advisory Committee, and with the City of Ballarat and Touched by Olivia Foundation, everyone worked together to make it happen.
The Disability Advisory Committee has been involved from the beginning, looking at designs, giving feedback and ensuring the play space meets the needs of everyone, no matter what type of disability they have. With their help, the City of Ballarat has been able to deliver a best practice outcome, rather than just meeting compliance standards.
The Inclusive Play Space is designed with many safety features, including fencing with single point entry that helps protect children who may not be aware of road safety.
The open plan enables easy supervision and on-site suitable toilets allow parents and children to stay as long as they want.
Another Disability Advisory Committee member and mum Heidi Biggin says the park is an exceptional facility not just for the young but for adults, like herself, living with disability.
“I am legally blind with twin four-year-old energetic boys, not to mention a guide dog user, so having a fenced in, accessible play space with toilet stalls that can fit all of us at once is literally life-changing for me, my independence and mental health,” Heidi says.
“Knowing the surfaces are flat, the pathways wide enough and the double gates are there gives me the reassurance and freedom to just let my guard down and enjoy simply playing with my boys.”
The Inclusive Play Space is designed as a safe place where everyone knows they can participate, and their presence is welcome. The play space provides people with disabilities and their families access to the simple joys of life.
City of Ballarat Director Community Wellbeing Matthew Wilson says the Victoria Park Inclusive Play Space is an integral part of the City of Ballarat’s Council Plan 2021-2025 to create 'a healthy, connected and inclusive community' as well as 'a Council that provides leadership and advocates for its community.'
“This play space and the people behind it have led the way for the City of Ballarat,” Matthew says.
“Its outcome is an inspiration, a healing influence and something we will explore further into the future.”
“We have a masterplan for the Play Space with further development planned for the future, including the clever use of plants and structures to create quiet and accessible withdrawal spaces and more opportunities for imaginative play.”
City of Ballarat Council Plan Alignment
The projects, initiatives, and ideas in this article align with the following goals of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025:
A healthy, connected and inclusive community
A Council that provides leadership and advocates for its community