Outdoor Playground Consultant
“Children at play are not playing about. Their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity.”
Michel de Montaigne (French essayist 1533-1592)
Bachelor of Social Science (Community Studies)
My Professional Background
My specialisation in outdoor play began in 2002 when I joined the PlaySafe Advisory Association team and again in 2009 when I joined Kidsafe WA’s Playground Advisory Service.
Some of the key projects I have undertaken include:
Being part of a small international group of play advocates that are part of the International Schools Grounds Alliance, have developed a Position Statement on Beneficial Risk in School Grounds
Was a key driver for the ‘nature play’ theme of the Kidsafe 2010 National Playground Conference: The Nature of Play, while part of the Kidsafe Playground Advisory Service.
In partnership with Department for Communities, developed a DVD of interviews with children talking about their preferences in outdoor play spaces and experiences for presentation at the 2010 Kidsafe ‘Nature of Play’ Conference.
Development of the popular Department for Communities ‘What About Child Care’ booklet series, giving helpful advice to help families advocate for quality child care. These booklets also include guidance about quality outdoor play environments.
Growing up in the 1960s and 70s I spent endless hours playing outdoors – helping in the vegie garden, riding my bike around the neighbourhood, collecting tadpoles, raising frogs, climbing trees, harvesting mulberries, hours and hours of unsupervised play. Holidays were nearly always to visit cousins in the Wheatbelt and full of kid-only picnics on the top of the hill in the back paddock, playing in the creek, gathering mushrooms and scary visits to the haunted old farm house near the shearing shed.
The more I have researched, the more I believed that outdoor play provision of recent decades actually inhibits quality play opportunities and therefore does little to support children’s learning, development, health & well-being. I agree with a colleague who proposed that our attitudes to and understanding of ‘play’ and how we provide for it are a litmus test of our attitude to children and teens in general; and to wider notions of what it is to be an autonomous choice-maker.
I have a strong belief that public open spaces are also a site of intersection for a wide variety of issues – child and community development, community safety and wellbeing, conservation and environment, connection to place and country, habitat protection, intergenerational social connectedness, universal access and inclusion, as well as PLAY – such that design and development of these spaces require a multi-disciplinary approach to challenge our perceptions of childhood, outdoor play and playspace design and inspire a change in thinking about the Nature of Play.
International Play Association
International School Grounds Alliance, Leadership Council