Inclusive Livvi's Play Space to go ahead but funds needed

A MILLION-dollar inclusive play space for all ages and all abilities will go ahead, with plans to build it at Victoria Park later this year. 

A Livvi’s Play Space was first announced for Ballarat mid last year, but funding became uncertain. 

Almost $900,000 was pledged by federal Labor to finance the project, but was lost when the government changed late last year. 

Touched By Olivia executive officer Rebecca Ho said it was  always planned for the space to go ahead.

“We don’t mind where the money comes from, we just want to see it built so everyone can enjoy it,” Ms Ho said. 

Over the past six months, the foundation has been working with community groups and held an online survey to see what was needed in the community to create a concept design.

“Playgrounds are a big thing: it’s the first step to create change, to get people with disabilities included,” Ms Ho said. 

“We’re creating an equal playing field in an inclusive playing space.”

Ms Ho said the next step was to apply for grants, organise community fundraisers and look for sponsors 

The initiative has just been approved for its first grant – $15,000 from the Bank of Melbourne’s Neighbourhood Fund first allocation for 2014. 

The City of Ballarat has committed $250,000 to the project through its capital works budget and is working to source other grants for the foundation.

Ms Ho said the foundation hoped it would receive funding from the state government. 

She said the foundation was working hard to acquire the funding, so the playground was running before this time next year.

“It’s a beautiful site, so we’ve tried to maintain the beauty and nature.” 

The design will be released late next week, and the foundation will continue

to take on community feedback. 

“There’s lots of green to kick about and there’s picnic areas and barbecues,” Ms Ho said. 

“There will be an all-abilities flying fox.” 

She estimates the playground will cost between $750,000 and $1 million before parking and amenities block expenses. 

Ms Ho said the foundation was in the process of applying for lots of grants and would begin to lobby for sponsorship and community fundraising. 

“We’ll call on every school to have a casual clothes day to raise a bit of money.”

Six Livvi’s Play Spaces are open around the country, with hope that number will raise to 16 by the end of the 

year, including Ballarat, and 42 new spaces are in development. 

Touched by Olivia was founded in 2006 with a mission for all children to be included, in memory of eight-month-old Olivia Perkins. 

If you wish to get involved with Livvi’s Play Space in Ballarat, contact Ms Ho on the website touchedbyolivia.com.au/

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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