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Design of communities must better consider children

The Commissioner for Children and Young People WA Colin Pettit has called for a greater consideration of children’s wellbeing needs in the design of Perth’s suburban developments.

Mr Pettit says recent media coverage of children being prevented from playing netball in the driveway of their strata house highlights broader planning issues that are potentially affecting children and young people’s wellbeing.

“We must be considering children and young people’s wellbeing needs as a top priority when making urban planning and development decisions,” Mr Pettit said.

“We all know Perth has changed significantly from 20 years ago and there is often less open space for children to play around their households.

“This is true in both new outer-suburban developments where blocks are becoming increasingly smaller and in the inner suburbs where backyards are being developed to provide a greater density of housing.

Mr Pettit said consulting children and young people themselves is a vitally important process in developing child and youth-friendly communities.

“Children and young people should be encouraged to give input into the design of the places, spaces and transport systems that affect their quality of life,” Mr Pettit said.

“Not only can they provide a unique perspective on their needs, but it instils a sense of ownership and pride, and recognises them as valued members of the community.

“There are some good examples of local government authorities working with children and young people in some ways, but I would like to see this extended more broadly so that, for example, developers must show how they consulted children and young people and how they have responded.

“Children and young people’s views and wellbeing needs must also be explicitly outlined in state and local policies and regulatory frameworks.

“The entire community has a duty to consciously support children and young people's needs and wellbeing like we would any other member of the community that is precious to us.”