Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Research project investigates quality of shade provision in NSW playgrounds

Research project investigates quality of shade provision in NSW playgrounds
April 8, 2021

University of Southern Queensland researchers Dr Nathan Downs and Professor Alfio Parisi are investigating the availability and quality of shade for ultraviolet radiation and heat protection in playgrounds across NSW.

They are carrying out the project with lead researchers at QUT for the Cancer Institute NSW, which leads the NSW Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy to reduce the incidence of skin cancer in the state.

Dr Downs and Professor Parisi have taken leading roles in developing techniques to provide quantifiable measurements of shade, as part of their broader aim to improve the use of our outdoor spaces, parks and playgrounds.

Explaining that the investigation had the potential to significantly benefit children and their families,

Dr Downs advised “children need to spend time at playgrounds and outdoors for their development. But their skin is especially sensitive to direct sunlight, and they are less aware of the dangers of UV exposure. So it’s vital that there is a sufficient amount of shade at parks and playgrounds.

“Shade is one of the most effective and easiest ways to protect from the sun, and can reduce exposure to UV rays along with good quality clothing, hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and exposure timing - avoiding the sun when UV is highest.

“Within this project, we will be investigating and benchmarking solar ultraviolet radiation exposure risk, shade provision and public use of the playground environments in local government and school districts across New South Wales.

“This will involve virtual shade mapping and providing new methods for real time assessments of local ultraviolet protection factors and heat index underneath trees and nearby buildings.”

QUT has almost a decade of research and policy advice experience from the 'Cool and Covered' project which combines a multidisciplinary team including health, design and built environment researchers.

QUT public health sun-safety researcher Dr Elke Hacker said the team was inviting people to give feedback through an online survey about their needs and preferences in the public areas they visit.

Dr Hacker noted “input from the community who are users of playgrounds and parks is crucial to this project being able to improve access to shade and greater protection from excessive sun exposure.”

QUT design researcher Dean Brough said the project aims to improve in practical ways the amount of shade whether it be with trees or structures in playgrounds in parks, commenting “the community feedback we receive from survey participants will inform our recommendations.”

Professor Parisi said he hoped the outcomes from their work in NSW would be used for similar projects around the world and help combat the prevalence of skin cancer, adding “our team and our international collaborators are focused on reducing melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer rates here in Australia and abroad.

“We are continuing to investigate methods that will assist members of the community by developing new measures for assessing sun-protective strategies and providing advice that can be adopted to more effectively schedule exposure periods in the sun.”

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with children the most vulnerable to the ultraviolet radiation that causes it.

For more information about the project, or to take part in the community survey, visit

Image: Dr Nathan Downs holding a Whole Sky Imager, a device that will be used in the investigation to benchmark shade in NSW playgrounds with the Cancer Institute NSW.

Related Articles

17th January 2021 - Wagga Wagga’s new adventure playground popular with visitors

28th December 2020 - Penrith rolls out playground shade sails in time for Summer

20th December 2020 - Penrith tree planting program delivers shade to parks and sports fields

11th December 2020 - Shoalhaven prepared for summer season with installations of new playground, picnic shelters and seating

22nd November 2020 - Double shade sail installed to complete transformation of Wagga Wagga’s Gobbagombalin Parklands

23rd September 2020 - University of Southern Queensland conducts inaugural study on impact of e-cigarettes on health and exercise

21st July 2020 - Blacktown City Council partners with NRMA Insurance to shade playgrounds

8th July 2019 - Bungarribee Parklands Shelters secures NSW Architecture Award for small projects

6th March 2019 - Councils assess heat island effects in built areas

20th January 2019 - Western Sydney University scientist creates star rating for playground heat performance

26th November 2018 - Surfing WA delivers skin cancer prevention education to Western Australians 

24th July 2018 - QUT launches eSports student scholarship

23rd January 2018 - Study identifies need for more shade cover in Wellington playgrounds

21st September 2016 - New Zealand councils look at role of shade covers in UV protection

20th January 2016 - Auckland mother starts campaign for more shade at playgrounds

9th November 2015 - Shade cover enhances popularity of Gladstone skate park facility

7th September 2015 - Scully Outdoor Designs adds shade structures to product range

3rd June 2014 - Shade covers evolve into textile architecture

7th October 2014 - Australia leads the world in decline in skin cancer

13th February 2014 - New Zealand shade company exports to French Polynesia

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

TicketSearch Pty Ltd

TicketSearch is focused on providing businesses, organisations, and venues with affordable, efficient, and powerful self-managed ticketing solutions. The organisation has offices in Australia, New…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


BH Fitness

BH Fitness, part of the long-standing and iconic bike manufacturer BH Group, is a global leader in fitness equipment for both Commercial and Home markets. The company, with the headquarters based in…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness


Centaman Entrance Control

Turnstile Entry Systems and Access Control Centaman Entrance Controls’ Award Winning Range of Access Control Systems includes tripod & triarm turnstiles, speedgates, full height…

read more

Access / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues



As of the 1st July 2018, Enta Australasia Pty Ltd/Best Union has been rebranded as Vivaticket Pty Ltd.  Vivaticket is the ideal strategic partner for the organisation and management of your…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues



With its sleek good looks and easy-to-use yet powerful functionality, Envibe is the premium fitness club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and fitness industry. We are the most…

read more

Aquatics / Fitness / Recreation / Technology


Hydrocare Pool Services

Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd offer 30 years of experience in aquatic industry features, products and water treatment. Hydrocare Pools has undertaken water treatment for aquatic centres and…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Technology


@leisure Planners

@leisure is a team of experienced leisure, aquatic and sports facility managers and planners, with market modelling, sports management, recreation planning, business and GIS qualifications. We have…

read more




Founded in 1961, Myrtha Pools® quickly became Italy’s première swimming pool company, and has since grown into one of the world's leading swimming pool construction…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks / Wellness


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business