Project status: Closed


How you had YourSay:

The Better Suburbs Statement was tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday 18 September 2018 by the Minister for City Services, Chris Steel, after being developed through a new model of engaging with the community – through deliberative democracy.

The Statement reflects the value the community places on the different city services provided by the government and identifies the efficiencies that could be drawn from this.

To develop the Better Suburbs Statement, there were three rounds of consultation:

  • Phase 1 – where the community was asked to provide feedback on city services
  • Phase 2 – we built on findings from Phase 1 to develop the Kitchen Table Discussion Guide to better understand the city servicing priorities that are important to the community and stakeholders
  • Phase 3 – a Citizens’ Forum of randomly selected participants from the community who worked together to develop the content for the Better Suburbs Statement.

The Better Suburbs Program then continued with shared decision making about play space funding allocations being undertaken with a smaller community forum, which included members of the Citizen’s Forum. This participatory budgeting activity identified the allocation of 2018-19 Better Infrastructure Funding for play space infrastructure improvements in Canberra. The work to implement these recommendations continues.

An independent evaluation of this participatory budgeting trial has been completed by Magical Learning Pty Ltd and can be found here.

We have now begun a rolling process to implement the Statement’s directions as we move towards a more resilient and sustainable future for Canberra’s city services. In each annual Budget round we will progressively adjust our investment so that over time it aligns with the priorities and focus areas outlined in the Better Suburbs Statement. The Better Suburbs: Making Progress document provides details on the funding commitments in the 2019-20 Budget.

We are looking at:

By 2030, we're heading towards Canberra being home to 500,000 people. Our suburbs will look and feel different and our city services will need to respond to changing expectations. How we use our land for housing and other purposes, move around our city, care for our environment and have services and space that allow us (and our animals) to be social will be different.

Decisions about our city services need to be made now for the future. They will have to balance community needs with being financially sustainable. This Better Suburbs Statement gives us a shared vision for city servicing in 2030, along with short term priorities that will lead us to this goal.

Most – but not all – city services are within the scope of the Better Suburbs Program. The services included in the program and the Statement are:

  • Domestic animal services
  • Construction and maintenance of footpaths and cycle paths
  • Construction and maintenance of roads
  • Parks and public amenity
  • Shopping precincts
  • Recreational facilities
  • Stormwater management
  • Street lighting
  • Traffic management
  • Trees and shrubs
  • Waste management

Your views are being used to:

Your feedback from Phase 1 and 2 consultation were used to present discussion topics in Phase 3, the Citizens' Forum.

The survey findings, Kitchen Discussion Guide feedback and Citizens' Forum discussions have contributed to the development of the Better Suburbs Statement.

The Better Suburbs Statement was drafted and presented by a Citizen’s Forum to the then Minister for Transport and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris, MLA on the last day of Forum proceedings. The Statement is now publicly released.

Play Spaces Forum

The Better Suburbs Play Spaces Forum has completed the allocation of $1.9 million to upgrade and improve play spaces across Canberra. This Forum trialed a new way of making decisions in the ACT, through participatory budgeting. The Play Spaces Forum:

• determined a Priorities Framework to help guide current and future play space funding decisions
• allocated $1,750,000 to play spaces improvements (to be delivered in 2018-19)
• allocated $150,000 to the development of a Play Spaces strategy (to be delivered 2019-20)
• made recommendations on how the ACT Government should work with the community in making decisions about play spaces into the future.

Play Spaces Forum meetings

The final (fifth) day of the Better Suburbs Forum was set aside for Day 1 of Play Spaces Forum on 19 August 2018. There were 45 participants, including Better Suburbs forum members and nine additional forum members with a personal perspective on play spaces. This day was facilitated by democracyCo.

A second Play Spaces Forum day (Day 2) was held on 22 September 2018 with 21 participants. A Priorities Framework was agreed and the allocation of $1.9 million into categories was finalised. This day was facilitated by Jacinta Cubis (

Four smaller panel meetings were then held in September and October 2018, each with up to 10 forum members. These panels made specific location and project decisions to spend the money that had been allocated into categories. The panel meetings were held on 26 and 27 September and 16 and 23 October 2018.

Information provided to Forum members

Forum Members received an Information Pack as background reading. 16 submissions were received from stakeholder organisations. These are available in the Document Library below. Day 1 of the Play Spaces Forum was about knowledge building. Participants analysed and deliberated on the 16 community submissions. Presenters on the day included: four community petitioners (available in the Document Library below); play space expert Greg Mews; and from TCCS management, Stephen Alegria and Owen Earl.

Reports from the Forum

A Community Report from Day 1 was developed by facilitators, democracy Co.

A Community Report from Day 2 was developed by facilitator, Jacinta Cubis.

A Decision Summary was developed by the Better Suburbs team.

Forum decisions

The Forum agreed on a Priorities Framework to guide play space decisions. These include prioritising play spaces near shops and other facilities, planning for equity across the city, setting targets for accessible and inclusive play and continuing to work in partnership with the community, especially children and young people.

The Forum allocated $350,000 to create new nature play spaces to enhance Eddison Park in Woden and Glebe Park in Civic, which will be designed in partnership with the community. These aim to add play value and enhance the experience for visitors to these parks. Natural play spaces provide creative and imaginative play experiences, using elements from the landscape, such as logs and rocks, to encourage children to climb, jump and explore.

The Forum also allocated $375,000 for five whole of suburb play reviews in Richardson, Warramanga, Torrens, Narrabundah and Higgins. A co-design process with residents from each of these suburbs will determine the best mix of play spaces to meet the needs of a diverse range of community members. Each suburb will receive detailed plans for one new (or re-built) play space and concept plans for the whole suburb. This is a new way of planning for play, looking holistically at a suburb rather than at one playground at a time.

$525,000 was allocated to amenity upgrades in 35 play spaces across Canberra, including shade, seating, landscaping, furniture and paths. These upgrades will improve the experience for a range of visitors, including children of all ages, adults, older Canberrans and those with disabilities.

The Forum allocated $500,000 to deliver essential work to protect the condition of 16 play spaces that are structurally sound but in need of refreshing. This work will extend the life of these play spaces by five to six years, and improve the aesthetics. Works will include repainting the equipment, replacing soft-fall mulch, replacing borders and repairing seating, decks and fences.

The Forum allocated $150,000 for the creation of a strategic plan for Canberra play spaces. It was determined post forum this will be most effectively delivered in the 2019-20 financial year to enable all of the insights from the delivery of play space work in 2018-19 to be captured in the strategic plan. (This released the $150,000 for 2018-19 to the construction of an additional nature play space in Farrer).

For more information on the the Priorities Framework, the budgeting decisions and details of play spaces to receive new amenity or refresh work, see the Decison Summary report.

Nature Play

How you had YourSay:

As part of the ACT Government’s Better Suburbs Program, a community-led Play Spaces Forum allocated $1.9 million to play spaces in 2018-19.

This Forum trialled a new way of making decisions in the ACT, through participatory budgeting. The Forum’s decisions are now being implemented by the ACT Government.

One key decision was the allocation of $350,000 for new nature play spaces to enhance Eddison Park in Woden and Glebe Park in the City. $150,000 has also been set aside to build a nature play space in Farrer. The forum specified these nature play spaces are to be designed in partnership with the community.

In late 2018 and early 2019 targeted engagement and co-design with local schools, child care centres and youth centres was undertaken, as well as broader community engagement.

To find out more about the feedback we received view the what we heard report for the consultation.

We are looking at:

Natural play spaces provide creative and imaginative play experiences, using elements from the landscape to encourage children to climb, jump and explore. These new play areas add to Canberra’s extensive playground network, providing opportunities for social interaction and play to enrich the lives of our children.

Nature play spaces can include anything from bike trails, dry creek beds, balance beams, climbing structures, cubby houses, water and sand play, sensory landscaping, balance logs, and much more.

We asked the community what sort of play elements they want to see in the natural play spaces at Glebe Park, Eddison Park and Farrer.

We will use your views to:

Your views have helped to inform the design of the natural play spaces in Glebe Park, Eddison Park and Farrer. The sketch plans are now available for Glebe Park, Eddison Park and Farrer.