Playground on the Slide

CoastCity Messenger – Michelle Etheridge

Urgent bid for play funds PARK HOLME ADELAIDE’S first playground designed specifically for children with disabilities faces an uncertain future, as a charity partner struggles to make a major dent on its funding promise. The Touched by Olivia foundation has until the end of this month to raise an extra $310,000 towards the Park Holme playground. It has so far raised about $90,000 for the play area, planned for next to Marion Outdoor Pool. Marion Council has committed $310,000 towards the project and the State Government’s Planning Department allocated $250,000.

Marion Mayor Kris Hanna last week conceded the project may not get off the ground. “That’s a real risk,” he said. “We are reliant on the Touched by Olivia Foundation and they seem to be entirely reliant on public contributions.” The council had hoped to start building the playground in January, but was forced to postpone the works because of the shortfall. In December the group, which had raised $70,000, launched an appeal for public donations to help fund the balance. Since then, it has received an extra $22,000.

Foundation executive officer Bec Ho said her organisation had made television appeals, met with local parliamentarians and appealed to businesses but was struggling to lock in funds for the project. “We’re still desperately trying to get the rest of the money,” Ms Ho said. “We’re not getting a lot of support but I’m pushing as hard as I can.” Ms Ho said she was confident of securing a $40,000 donation from a “small charitable organisation”, which she declined to name. She said it was possible the project may be scaled back if the charity could not make up the shortfall. “(But) this is the first of its kind in SA and we want it to be amazing – we don’t want to cut any corners,” she said.

The council’s city development general manager, Abby Dickson, said a May 9 report to elected members would “outline options for the project”. Hindmarsh MP Steve Georganas wrote to Federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter about the issue, requesting Commonwealth money to boost the project. However, Assistant Minister for Social Services Zed Seselja responded, saying there was no grant funding available.

Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent said disability-friendly playgrounds were needed across the state to break down barriers and help all children play. She hoped that if the foundation could not secure its funding commitment by the end of this month, Marion could build the playground in stages, as more money became available. “What we don’t want to see is this go off the radar all together,” Ms Vincent said.

Donate towards the project at https://chuffed.org/project/play