Launch of child friendly by design toolkit
19 Nov 2010
The Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, launced the Child friendly by design toolkit.
Good morning and thank you for inviting me to be here with you today.
I would like to begin by paying my respects to the Dharawal people.
I would also like congratulate everybody involved in developing the Toolkit and today’s launch and the workshop to follow. In particular, Deb Langridge from Healthy Cities Illawarra; and Associate Professor Geoff Woolcock from Griffith University for their tireless efforts to make this Toolkit happen.
I’m pleased that the Commission has been able to fund the printing and production of this important resource.
The toolkit is part of the Commission’s long history in promoting the development of child-friendly built environments in NSW. This resource complements the Commission’s built4kids publication that aims to support the participation of children in decisions relating to the built environment.
Since its release last year, built4kids has had 45 thousand downloads from our website. To me, that indicates there is a lot of interest from people in making environments more relevant and meaningful for children and young people. This is why it’s fantastic to have the toolkit as a practical local resource for helping planners and designers to involve kids in the planning process.
This key message was bought home to me recently when I visited Dubbo and spoke with some kids while at a skate park. To me, it looks like a really great skate park and there’s a nice fenced off playground for smaller kids located not far away. Except that some of the kids I spoke with said that they’re too scared to use the skate park. They feel intimidated because they get in the way of the more experienced and much older skaters who then get angry with them.
The older skaters are equally frustrated and not just with the younger kids. Apparently they resent being told off by the adult parents using the playground nearby. They see the skate park as one of the few spaces where they can just hang out without being hassled. These spaces enable them to more freely express themselves without always having to be careful about not swearing or for being a bit ‘out there’ and not being a ‘bad influence’ to younger kids.
What all those kids were telling me is that when Councils put in things like skate parks it’s a good idea to consult with the people who can help them avoid the “a one size fits all” approach. Toolkits are great resources.
We know from our work with stakeholders that supporting children in the built environment is complex and not always well understood. This is why resources such as the Toolkit are so important because it supports decision-makers to engage with children and young people. They help guide them through the planning journey, thinking about the impact on children of the built environment.
It’s also encouraging to see bi-partisan commitment in the NSW to the development of child-friendly built environments via the Parliament’s Joint Committee on Children and Young People. The Joint Committee on Children and Young People has identified the Commission as a lead agency in NSW to coordinate efforts and advocate for the development of child-friendly built environments.
As Commissioner for Children and Young People my job is to listen to the voices of children and promote their views to influence decision-makers, such as yourselves. I thought one of the ways I could do that for you today would be to bring a few of those voices here today so you can see and hear them for yourselves.
It is clear that children of all ages want to be supported to interact with their environments, their peers and members of their community in the places and spaces where they live, play and grow up. This includes both the built and natural environments and the places that link them together.
Children and young people also have their own unique and particular wants and needs in relation to the built environment. Therefore, it is important that their input into the planning and design of the built environment be not only sought but used. That is why it is so important to have these resources available and to work together to ensure that children’s voices are heard and responded to. Resources like the Child Friendly by Design Toolkit support the creation of such environments. I am pleased to officially launch the Toolkit.