Yesterday the submissions closed for the Local Boards’ draft annual plans. I publicised this on the Kiwi Play Safe Facebook page, so I hope some supporters also made submissions! This kind of opportunity to give specific feedback about our local communities is something that we should never waste. It’s easy to complain about things that don’t suit us, but if we don’t follow that up with action whenever the chance arises, we really are wasting our time and energy.

I made a submission about my own Local Board – Hibiscus and Bays – and about several other Local Boards, to address specific playground issues in those areas: in total, I made 18 submissions. In a couple of cases I even used a bit of PhotoShop to demonstrate exactly how I thought existing playgrounds could be fenced. I hope that, by raising issues about individual playgrounds, the Local Boards will be encouraged to consider them, rather than writing off the issue of playground fencing as something that is too big to handle.

Next week’s job will be to make the submission for Auckland Council’s overall play strategy, as per my last blog post. As well as addressing the fencing-related points raised in the discussion document (most of which I disagree with), I will be suggesting to the Council that they establish the kind of risk assessment framework for playground fencing that has been discussed before on this site. It does not sit well with me that, at present, the likelihood of a suburb getting a fenced playground rests almost entirely upon the campaigning abilities of its local residents. This approach totally prioritises the needs of those who has the necessary skill and experience to make their case heard – people who may have language difficulties, or other issues limiting their ability to make a submission, or who may lack the necessary expertise to approach their Local Board, are far less likely to know how to navigate the system and push for the outcomes they would like. This is an inequitable situation, and the safety of young children should not be contingent on a Local Board receiving good-enough submissions: there should be clear policies governing the fencing of playgrounds. This would help to ensure that wealthier suburbs don’t end up with the best facilities, while less wealthy suburbs are forgotten.

Join the campaign for better playgrounds for Kiwi kids – follow Kiwi Play Safe on Facebook