Our say | The wrong decision for all the right reasons

WHAT a terrible message Bathurst Regional Council will send to the community if it abandons plans to install a Liberty Swing at the adventure playground.

Councillors will tonight be asked to decide whether a Liberty Swing should be removed from plans to upgrade the playground because it would not promote “inclusivity”.

It’s a classic piece of bureaucratic reasoning that comes up with the wrong decision for all the right reasons.

Most in the community would agree that, ideally, parks should include play equipment that “promotes inclusive play and involvement for all people and does not separate, isolate or exclude certain members of the community, especially based on their ability”. The only problem is, that’s not what we’ve seen so far.

Since the adventure playground opened in 2009, many local children with disabilities have been left to watch on while others made the most of the wonderful facilities.

The push for a Liberty Swing was all about redressing that inequity, giving children in wheelchairs their own piece of equipment to enjoy.

It was bad enough that those children were left to wait all these years even after a swing was allocated to Bathurst by the Variety Club. But to now remove the swing from plans to upgrade the park on the grounds that it is not inclusive is simply staggering.

The report to council says a Liberty Swing sends the “wrong message” that people with disabilities require separate pieces of equipment and must be separated from their peers.

“Such play structures do not offer inclusivity and are more likely to restrict the development of an appropriate play culture that breaks down barriers that disabled people are different and can’t integrate together within the community,” the report states.

Again, that might be fine in principle but what we are seeing in practice in Bathurst already is a minority of children being excluded.

If one piece of equipment – and one piece only – sees the majority of kids excluded, is that such a bad thing?

By all means, press on with plans to bring in equipment that all kids can use, but that does not have to be at the expense of a Liberty Swing.

These swings are loved by children all over this country. Why should Bathurst be any different?