Getting the Balance Right - our new Guide for Risk Management

Children and young people’s access to free space for play is rapidly shrinking. Never is this more obvious than in urban areas in Australia where most of us live. For many children and young people designed environments such as public parks, school grounds or early childhood play areas are their main opportunities for outdoor play. This means increased responsibility for you, the play provider to provide high-quality, well-maintained play opportunities and play environments that reflect the needs of the children and young people and their families in your community.

So what is your role in this? Play providers tend to come from a diverse range of backgrounds, with wide and varied interests and expertise in play and play environments.  Whether you are in local government or early childhood, or part of a school community our responsibility to provide high-quality, well-maintained play opportunities and environments remains the same. So how are we best to approach this somewhat daunting task?

This guide encourages you to take an objective, balanced approach to play provision and risk management and as such is presented in two complementary parts; Part A. Risk / Benefit Assessment and Part B. Australian Standard AS: 4685-2014 Ready Reference. The purpose of presenting these two parts together is to give you confidence in using a truly ‘best practice’ approach to the design and management of your play environments. An approach that not only demonstrates an effective knowledge of the standards, but also asks the right questions about what makes a play environment great, in terms of play value.

This guide asks as many questions as it answers, its aim is to get you thinking about what you do and how you do it. Ultimately by presenting these two parts together, we hope to deconstruct the singular reliance on standards or regulations for decision-making related to play environments. Public safety is an important issue, but not the only issue at stake here and we hope that by reading this guide, you will become better acquainted with what makes a high-quality, well-maintained play environment and more confident to provide better play opportunities for children and young people and their families in your community into the future.

Getting the Balance Right will make an excellent contribution to the ongoing development of outdoor play in Australia.

The Guide is available for download by all Play Australia members at no cost by logging into the website using your login and password and accessing the document in the Resource Library.

Non-members can purchase the Guide via paypal or credit card here.