Playgrounds for all

EVERY big playground in Bayswater will, over time, become accessible for kids with disabilities following a decision of the council last week.

Cr Martin Toldo won support for his motion that at least one piece of equipment should be specialised for people with disabilities.

The rule will come into force as the city’s 10 bigger playgrounds are scheduled for renewal (the rule doesn’t apply to the many small neighbourhood playgrounds).

“Having a playground close-by with specialised equipment will drastically improve the quality of disabled children’s lives and make it easier for parents,” Cr Toldo says.

“Having to make a long drive to a playground can deter parents who already have a lot to deal with.”

Cr Toldo’s grand-daughter Téa, 4, can barely move or communicate, and is the only person in Australian known to be born with microcephaly-capillary malformation syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes multiple brain abnormalities.

• Martin Toldo and his granddaughter Téa Lake at Riverside Gardens. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• Martin Toldo and his granddaughter Téa Lake at Riverside Gardens. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

“Our nearest playground with disabled equipment is Riverside Gardens, which is around a 10-minute drive, so having somewhere closer would be much better,” he says.

“Téa gets so much joy from the wheelchair swing down there—she comes to life.”

Originally Cr Toldo wanted every playground in Bayswater to have disabled equipment, but councillors and officers advised the cost of fitting out more than 100 local playgrounds would decimate the budget.

“I helped to install a Liberty wheelchair swing a few years ago and it cost around $20,000,” said Cr Barry McKenna.

“But the joy it gave the kids was phenomenal.

“We just have to be careful we still have funds to do our general playground upgrades as well.”

Council will also consider in its mid-year budget review installing a $40,000 piece of inclusive equipment at Bardon Park.

The city’s three regional playgrounds at Riverside Gardens, Bardon Park and Robert Thompson Reserve already have equipment for kids with disabilities, but many of its seven district playgrounds do not.


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