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Submission to National Inquiry
into Children in Immigration Detention from
Child Accident Prevention
Foundation of Australia
Under the Convention
on the Rights of the Child (1989), children in detention have the right
to 'Rest & Play'. The main focus of this submission is to promote
the services of the NSW Playground Advisory Unit in order to support these
'The Convention rights
of the child to rest, play, recreational activities and to participate
in cultural and artistic life are vital for the healthy development of
the child' (Background Paper 3: Mental Health and Development).
The NSW Playground
Advisory Unit is an independent body funded by four Government Departments;
Department of Health, Sport and Recreation, Community Services and Education
and Training. The Unit is the principal agency for playground safety and
development in NSW and aims to increase the number of safe, creative playspaces
that comply with safety standards. The Unit comprises of personnel with
backgrounds ranging from, Child Development, Landscape Architecture and
The Playground Advisory
Unit has the capacity to design playspaces that facilitates 'unstructured
activities free from adult direction' as well as participation in 'activities
undertaken for pleasure' (Background Paper 3: Mental Health and Development).
Play: Its relationship to
a healthy life
Play is an essential
element of child development, promoting skills for adult life, including
social and physical skills. 'Play can relax the child, relieve tensions,
help assimilate experiences learnt and help the child function within
the family and community' (Background Paper 3: Mental Health and Development).
Play is vital to
the well being of all children, helping them develop physical, social
and cognitive skills as well as enabling them to explore their environment.
Children learn through play, how to problem solve, resolve conflict and
discover their limitations (Roberts, 1993). Participation in play helps
children develop coordination and positive attitudes that are likely to
be maintained later in life.
The impact from a
lack of play facilities for children in detention emphasises the need
for provision of appropriate play environments that are safe and accessible
for all children. This need is even more dramatic for children detained
over long periods of time, particularly those who have fled from war torn
countries and those suffering from deprivation of human rights.
Also of concern is
the significant increase in obesity amongst children living in Australia.
Dr Michael Booth (Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health, Children's
Hospital at Westmead) has stated that children who begin recreational
activity early in life will maintain this activity later in their life.
He has also stated that one of the key factors for those who seek to be
active is a physical and social environment, which is pleasant, safe and
offers a wide range of opportunities to be active for all age groups.
The primary consideration
of the NSW Playground Advisory Unit is to ensure all playspace designs
are fully compliant with the current Australian Playground Standards.
The Unit conducts one & two day training workshops regarding the existing
Standards across NSW to all groups and agencies and also conducts Safety
Audits of existing playspaces. Our playspace design service has provided
Concept Plans for numerous organisations and groups including Emu Plains
Correctional Centre (this playspace was designed for the children who
live in the correctional centre with their mothers), the Children's Hospital
at Westmead and the Ashfield Infants Home, Sydney (refer to appendices).
Design of a true and meaningful play environment incorporates areas for
the four basic types of play; active, passive, social and creative.
The Playground Advisory
Unit is the only organisation of its kind and is coordinated from Kidsafe
NSW. Kidsafe is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to preventing
unintentional death and injury to children. At present approximately 5,000
Australian children are injured and one child dies each day! Injury has
now overtaken disease to become the most significant health risk to Australian
children in the one to nine year age bracket.
Our Submission Aim:
The aim of our submission
is to offer our services and provide expert advice on appropriate play
facilities and applicable Australian Standards for the design of play
and recreation areas as they apply to detention facility design throughout
'There must be adequate
and appropriate spaces and equipment to facilitate play and physical activity
by children with disabilities in immigration detention' (Background Paper
5: Prevention, Treatment and Accommodation of Disabilities). Areas within
the playspace can be incorporated to facilitate screening and assessment
of children with disabilities by the relevant health professionals. The
Playground Advisory Unit has a Paediatric Occupational Therapist within
the team who can also provide the appropriate advice regarding consideration
for the provision of spaces for children with disabilities.
There are many considerations
that designers of children's playspaces must be aware of including, equipment
height, undersurfacing and design for access by particular age groups
of children. The Playground Advisory Unit provides this advice on a daily
basis across NSW, averaging 100 initial telephone contacts per month.
How does Australia
meet its commitments to child detainees under the Convention on the Rights
of the Child (1989)?
At present children
are detained in facilities within Australia that do not provide the appropriate
opportunities for 'Rest and Play'. All children require participation
in play and self-expression activities to foster healthy development.
The NSW Playground Advisory Unit can offer support and advice regarding
the provision of these facilities. The cost of this support can be negotiated
depending on the level of support required.
For further information
Playground Advisory Unit of NSW
Phone: 02 9845
Fax: 02 9845 0895
Updated 22 October 2002.