Charles Sturt study shows playground encourages inclusion

27 AUGUST 2020

Charles Sturt study shows playground encourages inclusion

Charles Sturt academic to present findings from study on inclusive playground in Port Macquarie as part of Social Sciences Week event.

  • Charles Sturt academic to present in Social Science Week at event on inclusive play space in Port Macquarie

A Charles Sturt University study has revealed a very special playground in Port Macquarie is fostering an inclusive and safe environment.

‘Livvi’s Place’ in Port Macquarie was the focus of the study conducted by Associate Professor in Interpretation and Ecotourism in the Charles Sturt School of Environmental Sciences and member of the Institute for Land, Water and Society, Rosemary Black, and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of NSW, Dr Janice Ollerton.

Livvi’s Place is a playground specifically designed to cater for children with a range of physical, sensory, neurological and intellectual impairments. It was designed and constructed in collaboration with Port Macquarie Hastings Council, the community and the charity Touched by Olivia.

There are similar playgrounds across the state, including in Wagga Wagga, and the research aimed to find out if adult playspace users believed Livvi’s Place was meeting its goal of social inclusion.

Livvi’s Place in Port Macquarie is owned and maintained by Port Macquarie Hasting Council, which also supported the research project.

“This is the first time a Livvi’s Place has been evaluated, so it’s an important study that will assist in the planning and development of future Livvi’s Places around Australia,” Professor Black said.

“Play is a fundamental right for all children and many studies show the numerous benefits for children, yet there are few studies on playgrounds and children with an impairment.

“In fact, playgrounds have been identified as places of exclusion for children with impairments as they do not have equal access to community play areas.”

The research revealed playspace users found the Livvi’s Place promoted a sense of social inclusion as attendees expressed feelings of safety, happiness and belonging while children were comfortable to make friends, learn new skills and interact with others.

“Social Science Week is a great opportunity to celebrate and highlight the work of social science researchers and the important work they do in learning, understanding and exploring people’s attitudes, values and behaviours to improve society,” Professor Black said.

The full results of the research will be presented in an online Zoom event, ‘Webinar: Visions for 2020’, on Wednesday 9 September as part of Social Sciences Week from Monday 7 to Sunday 13 September.

The webinar is comprised of four presentations, including the research on Livvi’s Place and talks on cross-cultural palliative care, bushfire volunteers through a sociological and theological prism and social science as social action in homeless health.

People can attend on the day via this Zoom link.

Media Note:

For more information, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on 0429 217 026 or

Photo courtesy of Touched by Olivia 

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Port Macquarie Charles Sturt University ILWS