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Parks and Leisure Australia regional conference looks to create a climate for change

Parks and Leisure Australia regional conference looks to create a climate for change
May 17, 2021

Exploring the creation of a ‘climate for change’, around 150 Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) members attended the organisations NSW/ACT and Queensland regional conference in Coffs Harbour last week.

Held from 11th to 13th May at the Coffs Harbour International Stadium, the combined conference was addressed by guest speakers and industry experts presenting and discussing around research and strategies on how to make the parks and recreation sector more environmentally sustainable and communities more active.

Among the principal presentations, Professor Philip Morgan of the University of Newcastle addressed gender equity in physical activity and sport.

Based on the NSW Office of Sport’s Her Sport, Her Way program, the University established the successful role out of ‘Dad and Daughter’ sport programs, explaining how the role of parents is important in encouraging girls to be active in any sport they want (including traditionally male sports).

Professor Morgan addressed how society needs to retrain its mindset on stereotyping children in sport and physical activity, addressing what he called “pinkification”, particularly when it comes to female inclusion.

The emphasis by Professor Morgan was that these “evidence based parenting programs work on improving the physical activity and self-esteem for young girls.”

The presentation emphasised the World Health Organization’s 2018 report that changing typical stereotypes would encourage greater physical activity and address the poor physical activity statistics Australia had achieved on world scale comparison.

The 2018 WHO Global Matrix 3.0 Physical Activity report showed Australia as doing poorly in the majority of areas:

  • Overall, Physical Activity (D)
  • Organised sport (B)-
  • Screen time (D)-
  • Schools Physical Activity (B)
  • Active transport (D+)
  • Physical fitness (D+)
  • Movement skills (D+)

Conference guest speaker, Paul Nunnari (Australian Paralympic champion and Director of Inclusive Infrastructure, Placemaking and Experience with Regional NSW) spoke of the design elements and social modelling that creates best practice benchmarking for inclusion for all abilities.

Glen Turner of Parkrun indicated that there are over 400 Park Runs across Australia and that the average time to complete the course had increased. This however is a positive, with many people running or walking the Park Run who were previously sedentary. A survey of GP’s had indicated that 69% had help prescribe the Park Run as part of their treatment for various diseases.

In addition to Parkrun, the importance of mental health education and referral was highlighted by the Belgravia Foundation while ActiveXchange showed how the sector could be more informed through the use of data.

Otium Planning Group presented the importance of the application of data to other digital platforms. Using these platforms via technology in planning future facilities to help personalise the customer experience.

Other speakers enlightened participants on best practice for creating environmentally sustainable open space, particularly in a world of climate change including drought, floods and bushfires. Discussions were around the governance factors that shape greenspace provision, the maintenance/restoration of greenspaces and waterways as well as creating drought resistant sports field options.

Image shows the NSW/ACT and Queensland regional conference venue the Coffs Harbour International Stadium. Credit: Yvette Audet.

About the author

Yvette Audet

Senior Consultant at Otium Planning Group and IAKS Australasian Ambassador

Yvette Audet is a Senior Consultant at Otium Planning Group and Australasian Ambassador for the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS).

She also posts to the Sporting Mum Blog page.

Click here to view Yvette's profile on LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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