Canberra’s play space network enriches our lives, makes our city more vibrant, and enhances community health and wellbeing.

Our play spaces are well used, valued and cared for by the ACT community. They are places where we enjoy time with friends, family and community and gain from the many benefits of play. They help us lead happy, healthy lives.

We seek to ensure the ACT has a diverse, engaging and accessible mix of quality play spaces for everyone.

Key principles:

The key principles of the strategy are to ensure the ACT’s play spaces:

  • are inclusive, equitable and accessible to people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds and cater to the wide spectrum of play opportunities
  • enhance physical and mental wellbeing
  • are sustainable and preserve the natural environment
  • are community-centric and encourage people to gather and engage in outdoor activity
  • provide quality over quantity and are built with design excellence and based on community feedback
  • are equitable across the city, providing a balance in the number, location and variety of play opportunities.


1. Develop play spaces for better health, wellbeing and connectedness

Our play space network improves physical and mental health by bringing people outdoors and enabling them to engage in physical, cognitive and social activity. Our play spaces provide community hubs where Canberrans can spend time outdoors with friends, family and community. Our play spaces contribute to our city’s high standard of living and the vibrancy of our neighbourhoods. They encourage connection with nature, provide opportunities for engaging with Canberra’s local heritage and culture and enhance a sense of identity, place and custodianship.

2. Keep play spaces safe and welcoming

Our play spaces are safe and welcoming places for all. Our play spaces are maintained to relevant Australian standards and kept clean and inviting. Local communities are our partners in achieving this level of safety and care through effective feedback mechanisms and community programs.

3. Make play spaces for everyone

Our play space network is accessible and inclusive so that people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds can participate in, and gain from, the many benefits of play. There is an equitable distribution of play value close to homes throughout the ACT, with all Canberrans having access to a diverse range of quality play features and amenity in their districts. Our play spaces strengthen communities by fostering cohesion and connection.

4. Improve the quality and diversity of play experience

We offer diverse and unique spaces and play experiences across the lifespan. Our play spaces provide the many benefits of play and outdoor activity and are built with high play value and design excellence. We prioritise quality over quantity in accordance with community feedback. With our research, industry and community partners we ensure that Canberra’s play spaces are developed for better community outcomes.

5. Foster sustainable play spaces that are resilient to a changing climate

Our play spaces contribute to a more climate-wise, resilient and bio-diverse environment. We use more sustainable materials that are better suited to the ACT climate, and our play spaces set an example for the sustainable use and reuse of resources. Our play spaces contribute to strengthening Canberra’s green canopy and living infrastructure.

6. Partner with community to make better play spaces

We engage and collaborate with the community in making investment, planning and design decisions about play spaces. We partner with the Ngunnawal communities in the ACT to promote and preserve the cultural and natural heritage of play space sites and we seek Ngunnawal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guidance and participation in play space site selection, design and delivery, enhancement and maintenance.


ACTION 1: Deliver better quality play spaces equitably and sustainably across the play space network.

Key focus areas:

  • Prioritise district and central play spaces for refresh and major upgrades because these have a higher play value. This will include: continuing to strengthen the quality and availability of public amenities around district play spaces; and prioritising delivery of central play spaces to older suburbs that currently do not have these.
  • Direct investment in local play spaces towards safety maintenance and minor refurbishments. When play equipment reaches the end of its safe and useful life, it may be replaced with different amenities or the green space provided for alternative community uses depending on how frequently the play space is used. Equally, as Canberra continues to become a more compact city, some local play spaces may be identified for upgrade or conversion to a central play space to support the broader district.
  • Investigate the provision of complementary facilities for play spaces as part of other upgrade programs undertaken for local shops and sportsgrounds, for example the installation of drinking water fountains at district and central play spaces.
  • Encourage private builders who are delivering play spaces to be gifted back to the Territory to design in accordance with our Municipal Infrastructure Standards and this strategy so that new play spaces contribute to the quality and equity of the network.


ACTION 2: Make underused play spaces available to the community for more play uses

Key focus areas:

  • Strengthen and promote processes for establishing and managing social infrastructure on public land.
  • Work with stakeholders and communities to adapt underused green spaces into valued community assets which support a diversity of play uses.
  • Take a collaborative approach to identifying where school and public recreational, open space and play facilities can be better aligned so that more facilities are available to the community.


ACTION 3: Strengthen the quality and diversity of play experiences for children

Key focus areas:

  • Continue to improve the diversity of play experiences across the network with a focus on types of play experiences which are less common within ACT play spaces – like more risk based, challenging play activities (slides, climbs etc) and nature based activities.
  • Focus this investment towards increasing the diversity of play experiences at district and central play spaces, in line with Action 1.
  • Examine best practice play space design in other jurisdictions and countries and seek to incorporate learnings and innovations which strengthen the quality and diversity of play experiences.


ACTION 4: Ensure play spaces are accessible and inclusive for a diversity of users

Key focus areas:

  • Continue to prioritise the delivery of accessible and inclusive play spaces across the ACT play space network so that everyone feels welcome and can participate in play – including people with physical and psychosocial disabilities, neurodiverse people and people across the age spectrum.
  • Prioritise investment in areas with low levels of inclusive play by adding inclusive play activities and places, fencing, shade, seating and other amenity.
  • Continue to expand the number of fenced playgrounds so that these are more available across district and central play spaces.
  • Improve accessible features such as paths and lighting in play spaces that contribute to better play value in districts in need.
  • Continue to strengthen the quality and quantity of play experiences for older children and adults, prioritising investment in play spaces that have capacity for increased levels of all-ages play.


ACTION 5: Assess play value and use this to improve delivery and maintenance of play spaces

Key focus areas:

  • Continue to regularly inspect and maintain play spaces to ensure they are safe and fit for purpose.
  • Develop a Play Value Index to complement safety audit information and better inform investment priorities.


ACTION 6: Ensure play spaces are sustainable and resilient to a changing climate

Key focus areas:

  • Prioritise tree planting to provide shade around play spaces while supporting the ACT’s green canopy targets. Where artificial shade structures are provided, we will prioritise larger and more popular sites where they will benefit the most users.
  • Ensure play spaces incorporate permeable surfaces that absorb stormwater.
  • Preserve ecologically sensitive environments within and near play spaces.
  • Link district and community play spaces with public transport connections and active travel networks to reduce emissions.
  • Use recycled and repurposed materials in the construction of play spaces and associated amenities wherever possible.


ACTION 7: Regularly assess and maintain all play spaces to relevant safety standards

Key focus areas:

  • Continue to ensure safety is given the highest priority through regular inspections and remedial maintenance of play spaces across the ACT’s network.
  • Review implementation of safety inspection processes to ensure they remain compliant with Australian Standards.


ACTION 8: Align play space developments and enhancements to community aspirations

Key focus areas:

  • Continue to undertake comprehensive engagement with community stakeholders to inform investment decisions as well as ensure the outcome of specific projects such as play space upgrades are aligned with community needs and expectations.
  • Further enhance the availability and quality of information on play spaces to support informed discussion and consideration of priorities.
  • Seek Ngunnawal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guidance in play space site selection, design, delivery and maintenance.
  • Seek to align the delivery of the play space network with the aspirations of the Canberra community for highly liveable suburbs and regions with great local amenity.