|Disabled Access Day 2017 is taking place on 10-12 March, 2017 and people with disabilities, their friends and families are encouraged to visit somewhere that they’ve never been before.
Melbourne's councils have created some wonderful play spaces which offer creative and enjoyable experiences for children with disabilities. Councils are incorporating accessibility elements into many upgraded playgrounds.
In order to celebrate Disabled Access Day 2017 we asked each council to nominate a play space which provides all abilities access and have tabulated their feedback below.
The Anthony Beale Regional Play Space was recently opened and includes a range of play facilities for different ages and abilities including a wheelchair accessible sandpit, creek water feature with hand pump, giant basket swing and a teen tube with Wifi connection that is wheelchair accessible. All the play features are linked by a network of accessible paths.
Markham Reserve in Ashburton is a fenced all abilities play space full of activities based around a long ramp which runs along the length of the playground with access paths to all the fun spots including a big covered sandpit. The council also had the foresight to create Melbourne's original all abilities play space at Hays Paddock in Kew East which still has a huge number of visitors.
Alice’s Playspace at Errington Reserve in St Albans was a joint partnership between the Brimbank council, Touched By Olivia Foundation, Leightons Contractors, the Commonwealth Bank and Boral and won a Parks & Leisure Award in 2014. It was one of the first public/private partnerships to deliver this type of play space in Victoria. It is located right in the heart of this municipality and has accessible equipment spread along a series of soft colourful surfaces.
Marriot Waters Play Space in Lyndhurst was designed so that children of all ages and all abilities can play side-by-side. It is fully fenced and has all access equipment including carousel and flying fox with harness seat. There are shaded wheelchair accessible picnic tables with accessible toilets and parking.
Bundoora Park play space in Bundoora is fully fenced and linked to a café for some after play treats. As well as lots of interesting equipment, a maze with a horse inside as one example, there is a great animal farm next door.
Frankston Foreshore playground is an interesting and fun playground which is reasonably flat with decking and paving linking the play areas and has a Liberty swing to enable wheelchair bound visitors access to the lovely sensation of swinging. A beach wheelchair is also available for use at the nearby Frankston beach. The playground is getting a big upgrade during winter in 2017.
Murrumbeena Playspace has areas designed specifically for toddlers, older children and those with disabilities. It provides a playspace with a number of all abilities play elements including an all abilities swing, opportunities for sensory play and exploration and equipment for physical development. All areas are linked with all abilities accessible paths featuring areas of rubber under surfacing. The surface specifically caters to users with wheelchairs or walking aids, providing a durable and safe experience. The playspace also features combination of traditional equipment, cognitive and sensory play experiences together with a contemporary new picnic / BBQ area to provide more interactive opportunities for families to enjoy.
The playground received the Regional Playspace Award at the 2014 Parks and Leisure Australia Awards of Excellence and was a finalist for the 2013 Community Sport and Recreation Award.
Booran Reservoir Playspace in Glen Huntly, which is due to open in April 2017, will be a premiere playspace with plenty of all abilities equipment and accessible design elements.
Burden Park in Springvale South has wide paths to provide access to a wooden fort and maze built by the community.
During the summer, beach matting and free to hire beach wheelchairs are provided at Williamstown and Altona beaches. The matting helps people with wheelchairs, prams, walking and mobility aids to pass over the soft sand to the hard sand. There are two types of beach wheelchairs available, one which is designed to travel on the sand along the beach and the other which is designed to enter the water to waist height of the support person. Beach wheelchairs are ideal for people who have mobility limitations, including those with permanent disability, temporary disability or those with reduced mobility due to age.
Touched By Olivia Foundation collaborated with the council to create a new all abilities play space at ANZAC Park in Craigieburn.
Bicentennial Park is a huge play space surrounded by fences with child proof gates which has lots of whimsical and fun elements for all ages and abilities. There are two big mound slides, Smurf village with a music hut, story hut and play hut complete with a mooing cow in the middle of the village and Tinkerbelle sand pit. The playground also features a Liberty Swing for people with mobility difficulties.
Wally Tew Reserve in Ferntree Gully is fully fenced and has natural elements with a theme of "Forest Floor". Bugs have never been so interesting and fun. There is a Liberty Swing and an accessible drinking fountain, toilets, picnic shelters, tables and path network within play space to incorporate inclusive play experiences for people of all ages and abilities.
Wombat Bend Playspace in Templestowe Lower is a beautifully crafted all abilities play space which features natural shade provided by trees and garden beds and provides the freedom for children to run around and explore hidden nooks and unexpected nature sounds and sights within a fenced area. There are many other activities to do at the nearby Finns Reserve through which the Yarra River passes.
The award winning Royal Park Nature Playground in Parkville is an accessible and innovative Play Space next to the Royal Children's Hospital which includes a water play area.
There are a number of all abilities playgrounds designed with input from the Melton Disability Advisory Committee. The best equipped is Navan Park in Melton which has special equipment such as the Integration Carousel which is a wheelchair accessible carousel that can be utilised by a child or parent in a wheelchair, a Liberty Swing which is a wheelchair accessible swing for children or adults, Flexi Sway, a large hammock close to the ground and Cozy Dome which is expected to suit many kids with autism.
Valley Reserve Play Space in Mount Waverley offers a fantastic play experience for children of all abilities. The playspace won the Parks and Leisure Australia Award of Excellence for the best playspace in Australia (in the above $500,000 category) in 2016. It was created using the vision of SPARC - a Socially Inclusive, Playful, Active, Relevant and Connected playspace. Upgrades including construction of additional pathways has been completed in the surrounding Valley Reserve.
Harmony Park in Coburg has lots of interesting play elements and there are paths leading to all of the play equipment which provides excellent all abilities access.
Eltham Lower Park Playspace in Eltham has an accessible play space with an all-abilities harness seat on the swings and flying fox, elevated sand trays for wheelchair access, tactile panels with Braille and Auslan symbols throughout the site and concrete pathway throughout the area. The theme throughout is the Eltham Copper Butterfly. The Diamond Valley Miniature Railway is also located at Eltham Lower Park.
Plum Garland Memorial Playground is set in a lovely location on Albert Park beach and has rubber paving up to accessible play equipment including basket swing, toddler swing, roundabout, water-play and natural play areas. The playground area has secure fencing with custom accessible gates, footpaths connecting picnic and play areas and an accessible picnic table setting.
Halliday Park in Mitcham has a number of all ability elements including a flying fox with harness seat and path access to the play equipment.
Yarra Ranges Council is currently putting the finishing touches on its new $1.4 million regional playground at Lilydale Lake, which will be an all abilities playground and will include a waterplay feature and other nature based play spaces. This is expected to open in April.
The council is committed to replace the classic pirate ship playground at North Road Reserve in Brighton. The community is encouraged to provide input into the type of playground they want and it would be wonderful if all abilities access was incorporated into the design.
Cardinia council is in the planning stages for a great new all abilities playground which is due for completion in two years time. I'm already looking forward to Disabled Access Day 2019.
A great destination for an all abilities experience outside Melbourne is Livvis Place Play Space in Ballarat. It is a huge fenced area with lots of varied equipment, a water play area, wonderful music instrument area, wheelchair accessible shaded tables and accessible parking and mini bus drop off area.
We didn't receive a nomination from Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Mornington Peninsula, Stonnington, Whittlesea, Wyndham and Yarra councils. You may have to search a bit harder for a great playground with all abilities access in these areas :-(
One of the keys elements for play spaces for people with disabilities can be secure fencing. Use this Enhanced Search to find playgrounds anywhere in Melbourne and regional Victoria which have secure fencing. The same search can also be used to find the location of Liberty Swings.