By Jamie Salter
An inclusive play space has opened in Berwick and is set to be a thriving community hub for years to come.
Opening just in time for the summer holidays, Hilltop Park’s fantasy themed playground has an array of accessible features for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy, including a quiet space complete with teepees, all-access walkways and shaded, accessible swings.
The play space was designed by Stockland Minta in collaboration with Variety Children’s Charity and Urban Edge.
Representatives from each organisation attended the ribbon cutting on Thursday 2 December to officially open the park.
Stockland Minta senior development manager Sommer Thompson said the project had been in the works for a long time.
“We commenced the project a few years ago now and we wanted to deliver it to the residents as soon as possible,” Ms Thompson said.
“We were able to deliver the first phase as soon as residents moved in and now we’re opening the entire park to the public.”
Stockland Minta will feature 1,700 lots with an expected 2,000 families moving in to the community – a total of about 6,000 people.
“We hope local residents and the external public will use it, the way we’ve designed it gives the best outcome to residents,” Ms Thompson said.
About $4.2 million went into building the park which championed local trades throughout its development.
Originally farmland, the area was purchased by Stockland in 2018.
Variety head of inclusive play Kim Becherand said Stockland were “visionary leaders in inclusion”.
“A play space takes such a long time to build and it takes a real team to put it together,” Ms Becherand said.
“An inclusive play space is somewhere where children and families can come to feel safe, comfortable and break down barriers about what it is to live with a disability.
“From our first vision, we knew this would be the perfect place for it.”
Indigenous artist Robert Michael Young of the Gunnai-Waradgurie tribe was approached by Urban Edge to paint the footpath in the park.
“This park is on contested land of the Bunurong Wurundjeri, so I wanted something to acknowledge their creative spirit and something fun for kids to discover,” Mr Young said.
“I wanted something to represent new creation, and the importance of connection to country.
“When I was painting I had people say they love the look of it and the creativity of using a footpath for the artwork.”
The play space is located at Stockland Minta, on the corner of Soho Boulevard and Carnival Road, Berwick.