“Danika can now play and interact with other kids – and they don’t even see her as a child with a disability. I think the playground is also helping to open doors for all children in our community and encourages more tolerance, patience and consideration.”
- Leisa O’Connor, mother. Comments published in Connect, Autumn (2006).
The all abilities playground located at Pioneer Park, Landsborough, was the first to be initiated by the Queensland Government. Created as a place where children with and without a disability can play together, side-by-side, the playground was awarded two national awards in 2006 and inspired the creation of a further 16 as part of the Queensland All Abilities Playground Project, which started in 2007.
Name: Pioneer Park All Abilities Playground
Officially opened: 18 February 2006
Main play elements: A pioneer cottage complete with play kitchen, veranda, ramp access and adjustable speakerphone, plus swings, sand and water play tables, a flying fox, artificial garden with spinning flowers and a mail box, vibrating rock, hammock, carousel and interactive sensory gardens.
Facilities: An accessible picnic shelter with tables, drinking fountain with equal access and push lever operation, large shade sail, as well as equal access pathways, rubberised softfall and ramp access, perimeter fencing and disabled carparking.
Toilet facilities: An equal access toilet block, featuring two unisex toilets.
Address: Caloundra Street, Landsborough.
- Queensland Government ($235,000)
- Former Caloundra City Council ($155,000).
For more information: Contact Sunshine Coast Regional Council on (07) 5475 7272.
Pioneer Park All Abilities Playground was developed by Caloundra City Council and the former Disability Services Queensland, working in collaboration with the local community. The project transformed and added to existing playground infrastructure already in the park, including a play fort and unisex toilet facility.
Extensive public consultation was undertaken during the project's planning and design process, including written surveys with families of children with a disability, phone surveys with community organisations, targeted consultation with key stakeholders and the general community, and the development of focus and advisory groups.
A design brief was developed outlining the needs of playground users, particularly people with a disability and their families. It highlighted barriers raised during consultation, as well as design ideas proposed by families and community members.
As design plans took shape, ongoing collaboration with focus and advisory groups ensured user's needs remained at the heart of decision-making.
Some of the design solutions developed included:
- the inclusion of a living interactive sensory garden designed to stimulate the senses, particularly touch and smell
- the use of materials and surfacing, such as wood and sand, that embraced the natural character of the site
- designing the picnic shelter to enable prams and wheelchairs to be part of the seating arrangement, while also providing ample room for maneuvering
- the provision of full safety fencing around the entire perimeter of the recreational area to ensure child safety and allow carers to relax
- the installation of harnesses on swings, the flying fox and carousel to provide greater support.
Once the playground was constructed, a community planting day was held. The day brought together families and former DSQ and council staff once more, and symbolised the project's highly-inclusive participatory approach to design.
In 2006, playground was awarded two national innovation and design awards — the Parks and Leisure Australia PRAV Play Space Innovation Award and a Certificate of Commendation during the 2006 Kidsafe NSW National Play Space Design Awards.
Pioneer Park also led to the Queensland All Abilities Playground Project – enabling participation in play, aimed at improving playground design for the benefit of all children, families and carers.
The User Participation in Design Framework used to create the state project's 16 new all abilities playgrounds was modelled on the design method used at Pioneer Park.