I am heading back to Australia and New Zealand in around three weeks, and am pleased to share some reflections, along with my schedule.
My trip takes in a flying visit to Auckland, followed by a week in Adelaide, before finishing with another week in Queensland. I will be joined in QLD by David Bond (kindred spirit, documentary film-maker, star of Project Wild Thing and self-appointed Marketing Director of Nature). A full itinerary is at the end of this post.
This post shares news of more positive developments in Australia, including a new video promoting street play, and some new state-wide networks that aim to reconnect children with nature.
First, street play: this video is from Gavin Fairbrother and the OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle) project based at Campbelltown in South Australia, and spreads the word about the potential of the model originally drawn up by Playing Out here in the UK.
I have been mulling over the series of events that I took part in whilst over here in Australia. What strikes me is the level of commitment, energy, enthusiasm, activity and progress that I have seen on this trip (my sixth tour of the country over the same number of years). I have a strong sense of something in the air: an opportunity moment. So in no particular order, I want to pay tribute to the following people:
Here in Australia, I recently visited Bubup Nairm, City of Port Phillip’s newest family and children’s centre. Opened in April this year, it brings together a range of childcare, health and family support services in a state-of-the-art hub building with a $A 15m [£10 million, $US 14 million] price tag. It is an impressive place. But it has not had the easiest of starts. I was told that just a few weeks after it opened, a four-year-old child was hurt and ended up in hospital. She and another child had been handling some rocks in a stone well in the garden, and a rock slipped out of one child’s hands and fell on the other’s, breaking her finger.
I am pleased to say that I will be returning to Australia this July and August for another series of talks and workshops, visiting Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. There is a full itinerary at the end of this post. My diary on this trip is very full, so I will have limited opportunities for additional visits and meetings. However, I will try to share some of my thoughts and experiences here, as on previous trips. One question has been on my mind for a while: are Aussies more well-disposed towards children as a group than we are in the UK? Does Australia as a nation care more about the freedoms it allows its children than we do here in the old country?
How do schools and other settings help children to deal with arguments and disputes? And are some well-meaning approaches doing more harm than good? A young Australian who I met on my recent visit there had some interesting answers to these questions.