Can you tell us a bit about your background – education, experience etc?
I initially started out as an occupational therapist, and gained experience in a wide range of positions such as group therapy program development, case management, drug and alcohol counselling, youth health, conducting workplace health and safety assessments and training, and coordinating a health promotion unit. I have recently completed qualifications in horticulture and landscape design and am enjoying applying this newly acquired knowledge in my role at Kidsafe NSW.
How did you get into the business/industry?
While I was studying occupational therapy I shared a house with other students who were studying early childhood education (as well as some parks and wildlife students – there were a few of us in that house!). The early childhood education students came home one day with an assignment that had the specific task of designing a playground. I recall thinking, “hey that project is so interesting!” and “why don’t we get to do that?”. I watched those students complete their group assignment from afar, taking note of the playground features that they thought were important. Yet I was looking at the task through my occupational therapist glasses and had compiled an entirely different wishlist for the playground.
Since that assignment, I have had a keen interest in children’s play environments.
Fast forward to 2005, I discovered an organisation called Kidsafe NSW that had a Playground Advisory Unit. I gave them a call to find out what type of qualifications they seek for potential employees and was offered an interview for a project officer in the Playground Advisory Unit!
Now the program manager of the Playground Advisory Unit, I most enjoy liaising with the large variety of professionals, business people, researchers and trades within the play industry. I really enjoy the pursuit of delivering best practice advice regarding playgrounds, ensuring that all advice with regard to children’s safety and play opportunities is practical and also beneficial for all children’s safety and development.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Gosh, there have been so many! Coordinating the Kidsafe 2010 National Playspace Design Awards was certainly very rewarding! I loved receiving all of those entries and learning about the quality playspace projects that so many groups had achieved around Australia. It was also fantastic that we received so many entries from regional areas. The awards program very much proved to me and the wider community that Australia is a world leader in terms of playground design. Another ongoing highlight is working alongside key members of the play industry with the development of the Australian Standards related to playgrounds. I have learned so much from participation on these committees, have met wonderful people and I am very grateful for the experience and the opportunity to influence and contribute to important guidelines.
What, in your opinion, has contributed to the success of the business/industry you are in?
The play industry is alive in Australia thanks to the dynamic and active play advocates who over many years have tirelessly pushed for quality children’s playspaces. Play as a priority has been achieved in the most minor and major ways, some of which we may not have noticed at the time, others have been a bold statement. Advocacy presents with the provision of a quality playspace, but also via a commitment to play within policies, organisational culture and most importantly not losing sight of who we are building these places for – the children.
What does your business/industry have planned/coming up?
Kidsafe 2012 National Playspace Design Awards — I am so excited!
The Kidsafe 2012 National Playspace Design Awards will recognise excellence and innovation in the provision of safe, creative playspaces Australia wide. The awards are open to service providers, design professionals, students, landscape contractors and playground providers in all sectors. This is a great opportunity to showcase current playspace design and development achievements. The awards aim to promote inspirational and innovative best practice play facilities and encourage healthy participation in recreational activities for all children.
The awards program is now open to receive entries. For the information flier, judging criteria, entry form and further information, visit www.kidsafensw.org and call 02 9845 0890 if you have any questions.