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Charles Stuart - 14 February 2017

Charles Stuart made comments regarding funding the complete Corrigans Playground at the Ordinary Council Meeting 14 February 2017.

I am Charles Stuart of 'The Bay Push' a not-for-profit organisation which has been the driving force, in partnership with Council to build the Inclusive Playground at Corrigans Reserve, Batehaven.

I have two requests of council today, but first some background.

In late 2015, under the umbrella of council, The Corrigans Reserve Playground Sunset Advisory Committee was formed. This comprised 2 councillors, 2 members of The Bay Push and 2 community members.

The committee called for tenders from architects qualified in the area of playground design that specifically caters to children with a disability, but also all able-bodied children. In the words of the chosen architect, "not all play equipment will be usable by all children, but there will be a piece of play equipment for all children".

The design is cleverly formed to induce children on the autistic spectrum to be drawn into the play area and the equipment is so placed to gradually increase the intensity of activities. Autism is the most common form of disability in children and is not highly visible.

The playground is sited some 400 metres from Batemans Bay High School which has six special education classes of children with a disability. Angie O'Connor, head of the Special Education unit regards the facilities provided as a godsend as her charges are able to enjoy outdoor activities, close to school in a fun and safe environment. Not something that is otherwise available.

Money raised to mid-2016 amounted to $758,000.00. This was made up broadly as follows:

  • NSW Govt Grants                            $400,000
  • Council funding                                $136,000
  • Bay Push fundraising                       $222,000 {where's Richie Benaud?)

At that stage, the committee decided to spend what had been raised to re-build the playground, rather than wait interminably for the balance of funding to become available.

As a result, the playground was opened to the public in time for the last Christmas school holidays just 2 and ½ months ago, and what a wonderful success it has been, with crowds of children, parents and grandparents enjoying it daily.

However, it's only half built.

We need another $570,000 to finish it.

There are 6 items of substantial play equipment to be installed, soft fall plastic @ $240 per meter, landscaping, groundworks, signage, entrance, bike racks, etc.

I believe I have arranged a grant of $80,000, but that outcome will be clearer next month. So, in round terms I believe we need $500,000 to finish this stage.

I am currently in negotiations with our local State and federal members to obtain grants totalling $400,000.

I have written to the Mayor to seek a contribution of $100,000 in the 2017/18 budget and in this regard, I seek all councillor's support.

But the playground is not the sole benefit for the shire's residents. The Bay Push has raised funds for a wheelchair fitted 25 seat bus for Batemans Bay High School at a cost of $150,000, A wheelchair swing for the playground at a cost of $10,000 and finally has supplied and installed a boardwalk and 2 water wheelchairs at Corrigans Beach cost a further $10,000.

All of this infrastructure and other initiatives are planned to raise tourism in the shire. My organisation would like to see our region marketed as friendly to families with a disability planning a holiday.

I should place on record my gratitude to council for approving and supplying a Bob-cat for the boardwalk and to all the council staff who have done such a magnificent job on installing the playground. Please pass on our thanks.

Now having asked council for a donation of $100,000 there is one further personal request I would ask.

I have been a member of Variety the Children's Charity for nearly 30 years and it is this association that inspired me to undertake this project.

Variety has donated $65,000 to date and they are favourably considering a further grant of $80,000. Not only this, but they will consider additional annual grants of this size, over the following three years.

So, I believe it is appropriate to name the playground -'Variety Park'.

The name has many connotations and it not only acknowledges the organisation but indicates that it is usable by a variety of people in a variety of activities.

At a meeting of The Sunset Advisory Committee held late last year, the name was approved to be put to council and in this regard I have provided a submission to Rob Pollock, Chairman of the Sunset committee.

In conclusion, I ask that councillors look favourably on our requests for $100,000 of funding in the 2017 /8 financial year and to approve the name of Variety Park for the inclusive playground at Corrigans Reserve.

Council's reply

We are very pleased to advise that we have recommended $100,000 in the 2017/18 Budget to go towards Stage 2 of the inclusive playground. This will not be confirmed until a report has gone to Council and subject to the exhibition period, followed by a further report for adoption on 27 June, 2017.

We congratulate you on the tremendous outcomes you’ve achieved in terms of raising money and awareness for disabled people and the community generally and we are proud to be working with you on this worthwhile community project.

In relation to your second request, this proposal was agreed to by Council at its meeting held on 14 February 2017 as an acknowledgement of the significant contribution from the Variety Club of Australia.  The proposal to name the new inclusive playground located in Corrigans Beach Reserve, the Variety Inclusive Playground is currently on public exhibition until 4 April 2017, at which time a report will go to Council with a recommendation for adoption, subject to submissions.