And the winner is…

And the winner is…

On Tuesday night we frocked up and headed to our nation’s capital for the ARIAs of the disability world: the National Disability Awards. Surrounded by inspiring organisations and individuals, we took our seats and nervously waited for our category “Inclusive and Accessible Communities” to be announced. It was a great shock and honour when Touched by Olivia was called out by Senator Mitch Fifield. We are so thrilled to be nominated and recognised for our work to make Australia more inclusive. You can read all about the event and the other winners here.


We’ve taken it straight to the pool room to hang out with some of our other awards:

  • Best Playspace in Australia 2010, Parks and Leisure Australia
  • John Perkins, Father of the Year Inner West 2009
  • Justine Perkins, Inner West Citizen of The Year 2008
  • Community Contribution Inner West Business Awards 2008
  • Vodafone World of Difference Program Sponsorship 2011
  • IPWEA Award for Best Community Facility, 2010
  • World Leisure Organisation – International Innovation Award 2011
  • NSW Volunteer team of the Year 2012
  • Article 31 – Promotion of play in community 2013
  • Premiers People’s Choice Award for Landscape Architecture 2013
  • Sydney Greenspace Award 2013
  • Parks and Leisure Best Playspace Victoria 2014
  • National Disability Awards Inclusive and Accessible Communities 2014
Big Bands Play Date 6 Sept 2014

Big Bands Play Date 6 Sept 2014

The Big Bands Play Date will feature 4 of Ballarat’s Brass and Concert bands playing family favourites from stage and screen including music from How to Train Your Dragon, The Smurfs, The Lion  King, Frozen, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mary Poppins, and many, many more.  Fresh from their successes at The Royal South Street and Maryborough Bands competitions, Creswick Brass, Haddon Concert Band, Ballarat Brass and Ballarat Memorial Concert Band are looking forward to showing the next generation of players how much fun music can be! There will be chances for kids to see some of the instruments up close, show off their dancing skills (get practicing for YMCA!) and some will even get a chance to conduct! 

There will also be raffles (amazing prizes!), lucky dip, a toddler play corner (thanks to Ballarat Toy Library) and face painting.  A kiosk will operate offering yummy cakes, slices and drinks too.

The Big Bands Play Date is from1.30pm- 4pm at the Cooinda Hall, opposite Central Highlands Water on Learmonth Rd.

Tickets are $5 per person or $20 family and are available at the door.

Every cent raised will go towards funding accessible play equipment for Livvi’s Place Ballarat, an inclusive play space to be built in Victoria Park and opening in 2015. This play space is designed so that children or carers with disabilities can play along-side their non-disabled children, grandchildren or peers. There will be a display of the concept plans for the play space at the Big Bands Play Date so people can come along and learn all about it.

For more info or to support this journey visit our Friends of group on Facebook.  


An Open Letter

We were saddened  to find this letter pinned to the wall of Livvi’s Place Five Dock:


It is wonderful that so many different people come to this park to enjoy the marvellous facilities. And it’s fenced! (I can’t even entertain the idea of taking my child to a park which is not fenced). Whole families, parties, single parents with children connecting with others a real sense of community and belonging.

You may not know that many children who come here are living with disabilities. This park was designed with special needs of all kinds in mind. Some disabilities are not visible at first impression; intellectual, sensory or other neurological disorders do not require a wheelchair or walking aids. A child may not have grommets to assist with hearing or glasses to assist with seeing. It may not be obvious that a child has a disability until we see how they behave or respond (or don’t) towards other children or even to their own name.

It is beneficial and even important for socially impaired children to witness how typically developing children play, even if they don’t participate, it brings a sense of belonging and eventually after many occasions of witnessing purposeful play children with neurological and or intellectual disabilities can learn to also play purposefully. Typically developing children can also benefit from playing near or with children with disabilities as it teaches them empathy and to appreciate their own skills, whatever they may be, not to take for granted, for example the fact that they can actually use a scooter or have a conversation with a friend, or even play make believe pirates with Mum and Dad.

My son is four and has autism. He has also severe developmental delays, mostly mental and emotional. He cannot talk and rarely plays with the equipment here, at least not the way a typically developing child would. He does, however, love to come here. It is the highlight of his week because he attends special programs during the week which try to control his erratic behaviours, teach him to communicate via alternative means, teach him to sit in a group or sit at a desk, tasks he finds extremely challenging, frustrating and restrictive, often making him anxious to the point of vomiting. When he comes to this park he is allowed to be free to play, however play looks to him. Sometimes this means standing under a tree tossing leaves in the air and watching how they fall. This brings him immeasurable joy. He is told all week that he cannot throw objects. Repeatedly, over and over, his teachers, therapists and myself are on his case. When he does this he finds it so exciting he wants to share it with others but I encourage him to “play” far away from other people as possible. Another way he plays is to run around the park in circles admiring his hand or an object or a leaf. it is wonderful to see him happy for a change. His emotional and intellectual age is that of a 10-12 month old and has not learned to be defensive or naughty. He does, however have feelings and many many thoughts which overwhelm him easily. Often these feeling or thoughts come to him 20 minutes or even hours later as he has long processing delays. So he may never respond at the time, but takes it all in. Most nights he doesn’t sleep, dealing with the days anxieties for hours at a time during frequent night wakings; lasting one to three hours. I feel as alienated as he does at times as other parents avoid me as well as my son. Being sleep deprived as I am from consoling him and making sure he doesn’t trash the house during the night, my emotions run deep.

I am disgusted when my son who is minding his own business playing by himself, is approached by another child, younger or older, and is chastised or even kicked and hit repeatedly for the way he is playing. The parents often just watch without reprimand. It breaks his heart as well as mine. We live in such a diverse society and we teach our children to accept other people of different cultures, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds … what about various disabilities? Please prepare your children when coming to a park that accommodates special needs and tell them that not all kids are the same. They don’t have to play with or talk to the kids with disabilities, but if they don’t like how kids with disabilities play they should not be going out of their way to harass and assault them… if they do, then why on earth would you not teach your child that this behaviour is unacceptable, just as I teach my intellectually handicapped son not to engage in play near where he might affect other people? I don’t come here with my son to relax. I come here to teach him how to be around other people. It’s hard work. I would rather be at home, but it is my son’s right to access the community and learn to live within it, especially as that is what will be expected of him as he grows. It’s a long and tiresome and thankless journey… but I am brought to new levels of grief when a child half my sons age comes halfway across the park just to give my son an earful and a beating.

To the sweet children (and the parents who raise them) who actually attempted to talk to, play with or share your food or party bag with my son, I am overwhelmed with sincere thanks, so few of you as there are: it gives me great hope for a future world my son will live in. I am only sorry he was not capable of finding a way of responding or engaging with you himself. I can tell he appreciate it in his own unique way.

Thank you. Enjoy your day.

Accessing Accessible Amenities Survey

Accessing Accessible Amenities Survey

For some of us, the simple dignity of using the toilet can require detailed preparation and planning. Assistance is needed to build better, more inclusive places. Touched by Olivia was proud to work with some of Australia’s leading designers, architects, academics and advocates to create, an online resource and set of principles available for anyone looking to develop an inclusive playspace. The principles are:
1. Everyone can play
2. A connection to community
3. Access to Nature
4. Total Experience
5. Play Independence – I can do it myself!
6. Friendship – Social participation. We advocate for total experience in the Livvi’s Place National Network. That means we consider how people travel to our playspace, parking and pathways, and what amenities are required to make the experience as inclusive as possible. One of the most important elements of successfully achieving this is by creating bathrooms/toilets/amenities that meet the needs of everyone. Please, take 2 minutes and complete this survey. The results will be used to inform the design decisions in our projects going forward, and shared with other advocacy and decision making organisations. We would appreciate if you could forward this link to anyone you think may have valuable input to the discussion.
Playing with Auburn Public School

Playing with Auburn Public School

On Friday 25 July, Touched by Olivia was delighted to be part of the celebrations as the students, teachers and friends of Auburn Public School opened their inclusive playspace. Driven by two passionate teachers, Kathleen Hansell and Naomi Bonus, this project took 4 years. The results show that the project was worth the wait.

Two years ago we first met with Kathleen and Naomi, and knew that this was the perfect addition to our Inclusive School Playspace Pilot.

The school playground can be a challenging place for many children.

• 37% of children with disabilities have difficulties fitting in socially

• 1 in 4 primary school students report being bullied

• Over a quarter of Australian kids are overweight or obese

• 14% of children aged 4-17% have mental health problems.

To combat these major issues, Touched by Olivia is guiding schools to develop and activate inclusive playspaces and strategies utilising our learnings and support networks. The outcome of this pilot is to deliver a comprehensive toolkit, endorsed by State and Federal government, that can be implemented to foster inclusive play within the school community.

Earlier this year, we opened our first school project at St Marks, Drummoyne.

Children from the support unit and the Student Representative Council were delighted to be the first to play.

Over $120,000 was raised by the teachers over  the period of the project. Thanks to Dooleys, NSW Government, Transgrid, Auburn Council, Variety Club, Exterior Landscapes, Gary Walden Trust, McDonalds and the Parents and Friends Association of Auburn Public School.

Here is a video from the opening day:

Auburn Public School Opening Day

And more information on the project can be found in this media release:

Touched by Olivia Media Release-Auburn Teachers go to bat for kids 17092013

Livvi’s Cafe now serving in Five Dock

Livvi’s Cafe now serving in Five Dock

LIVVI’S CAFE OPENS: On Friday 11 July 2014, Touched by Olivia opened it’s first social enterprise cafe at Livvi’s Place Five Dock, located on Henley Marine Drive.

With major sponsor Stockland and City of Canada Bay on hand to show their support, hundreds of people lined up for coffee, cakes and paninis. Here is some of the media.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 9.43.17 pm

A POP-UP cafe in Timbrell Park has been specifically designed to offer employment opportunities for people with a disability.

The cafe, located next to Livvi’s Place (playground) in Five Dock, is the result of the hard work of Justine and John Perkins who lost their baby daughter Olivia to a rare illness at just eight months old.

“It has always been a vision of ours,” Ms Perkins said.

“Our goal in the next few months is to have the cafe up and running and to be in a position to employ people in our community with a disability to work alongside the cafe operators.”

In 2009, the couple opened Livvi’s Place, a playground for children of all abilities.

Sandra Casinader, whose two young children often use the playground, is delighted by the idea of the cafe. It will be a social enterprise, hiring people with additional needs.

“I feel so proud and connected as I imagine a future for Kingsley in just these types of scenarios,” Ms Casinader said.

Canada Bay Council have shown their support by offering 18 months rent-free.

Funds raised from the cafe will go back into the Foundation with the aim of building an inclusive play space in every community.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 9.23.46 pm

Children thrilled about Livvi’s playground cafe

A playground to give children with a disability an opportunity to play with others now has its own cafe!

Livvi’s Place in Timbrell Park, Five Dock opened Livvi’s Cafe on Friday with profits to go towards playground equipment and facilities.

It is run by the Touched by Olivia Foundation which was founded by Justine and John Perkins several years ago in memory of their baby daughter Olivia who died of a rare illness at just eight months old.

John Perkins told The Weekly Times Olivia would have been thrilled to be at the Livvi’s Cafe launch.

“This playground is always full with children of all ages and abilities and to see so many playing here this morning would have brought a huge smile to her face,” he said.

“Like us, she would be so very proud of her new little cafe.”

Mr Perkins said as well as the profits going to support the playground the cafe will employ five people with a disability each year and offer barista training.

“It will be open from 7.30am until 5pm and just stopping for a coffee will go a long way to help our playground,” he said.

It was officially opened by Drummoyne MP John Sidoti and City of Canada Bay Mayor Clr Angelo Tsirekas.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Touched by Olivia Foundation to deliver Livvi’s Cafe,” Mayor Tsirekas said.

“The City of Canada Bay has provided the space rent-free for 18 months and also assisted with the set-up of the Cafe.

“It is great to see John and Justine’s vision come to life.”

John Perkins paid tribute to its major sponsors.

“Livvi’s Cafe would not be happening without the generous support of our partners, the City of Canada Bay and Stockland,” he said.

“Livvi’s Place aims to dramatically reduce the barriers experienced by children with special needs and their families, helping to give them a level playing field for life.”


The opening of a new pop-up café at Timbrell Park, Five Dock, will offer employment opportunities for people with a disability, as well as raising money for the Touched by Olivia Foundation, says City of Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas.

“Livvi’s Café will open at Livvi’s Place, the flagship playground for the Touched by Olivia Foundation. The new Café will provide employment opportunities for people with a disability down the track but will also be a great benefit to users of the playground,” he said.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Touched by Olivia Foundation to deliver Livvi’s Café. We have provided the space rent-free for 18 months and also assisted with the set-up of the Café. It is great to see this vision now come to life.”

Justine Perkins, Founder of Touched by Olivia, said Livvi’s Café aimed to be a sustainable model of funding, providing programs and employment opportunities for people with a disability in the community.

“Our goal in the next few months is to have the Café up and running and be in a position to employ people in our community with a disability to work alongside the operators of the Café,” she said.

“We are really excited about this project and not only will it make a real difference to the community, it will also allow us to generate funds to support our dreams of an inclusive play space in every community.”

“Livvi’s Café would not be happening without the generous support of our partners, the City of Canada Bay and Stockland.”

The Touched by Olivia Foundation was founded by Justine and John Perkins after they tragically lost their baby daughter Olivia to a rare illness when she was just eight months old. Their life as they knew it came crashing down with immense sadness. Following this devastating event, John and Justine devoted themselves to positively enhancing the lives of children and their families. The Touched by Olivia Foundation was a step towards realising the dream that has become Olivia’s legacy.

Livvi’s Place, located in Timbrell Park at Five Dock, was launched in 2009 and is the flagship inclusive playspace of the Touched by Olivia Foundation. It was designed in consultation with experts in the areas of play, disability, and landscaping, along with the local community.

Centrally located in Five Dock, Livvi’s Place was built for children with all forms of disability and from all parts of Sydney. The playground’s unique design and equipment addresses the needs of children with various forms of disability including mobility, vision and hearing impairments, as well as spectrum disorders such as autism.

“Livvi’s Place aims to dramatically reduce the barriers experienced by children with special needs and their families, helping to give them a level playing field for life,” Justine said.

“The addition of Livvi’s Café will enhance the overall experience of the playground.”

Livvi’s Café was launched on Friday 11 July, 2014 by City of Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas, Justine and John Perkins from Touched by Olivia and Lauren Cassar from Stockland.

Gourmet Trivia 8 August 2014

August 8th at 7.30pm in the function room at Jackson&Co, Ballarat.

$50 pp or discount for table of 10

All proceeds will go directly to funding accessible play equipment for Livvi’s Place Ballarat.

In some ways it will resemble a traditional trivia night with tables working as teams, silent auctions, etc. However, this will be a trivia night with a touch of class. Guests will receive a glass of wine and canapés on arrival. Once seated, they will compete in four rounds of trivia: Wine, Music, Food and General Knowledge. All questions will be appropriately “high-brow” (ie. no Kardashians or actors from “Neighbours” allowed). These questions will test your senses of taste, scent, sight, and hearing in a true gourmet themed experience.

Platters of finger food will be provided for each table.

Will your team have what it takes to be crowned the kings and queens of gourmet trivia?


Stockland Forster joins the TBO Family

Stockland Forster joins the TBO Family

STOCKLAND JOINS TBO FAMILY: In May, Stockland Forster officially opened their new playspace, developed in partnership with Touched by Olivia and designed by the wonderful Ric McConaghy.

Touched by Olivia and Stockland have the shared values of an inclusive community and are looking forward to opening many more inclusive playspaces as part of their friendship in the future.

Watch a video from the opening day


Flying Fox Friday – 16 May 2014

Flying Fox Friday – 16 May 2014

Ballarat Primary Schools are raising funds for the Flying Fox in Livvi’s Place.

On Flying Fox Friday Dress-up Day, students will dress up in pink, blue and yellow representing the colours of the Touched by Olivia Foundation who work with councils to develop inclusive play spaces across Australia. Last week, Pleasant Street Primary in Ballarat was visited by Rebecca Paton, local mother of 2 and the community driver for the Livvis Place Ballarat Project. Rebecca spoke to the Pleasant Street Primary School Junior School Council about the planned play space and the benefits of inclusive play such as access for all and social inclusion. She was impressed by the intelligent questions asked and the wonderful support for the project shown by those students.

Pleasant Street Primary are leading the way with the first Flying Fox Friday. Some other schools have shown an interest in running them and Rebecca is hopeful that by mid May most of the schools in Ballarat will have taken this opportunity to get involved, support a great project and celebrate inclusive play.

For further information about Livvi’s Place Ballarat, contact Rebecca Paton at

Lift off for Livvi’s Place Penrith

Lift off for Livvi’s Place Penrith

National charity Touched by Olivia kicked off their fundraising drive to build their first inclusive playspace in Western Sydney today, accepting a $38,000 cheque on the future site.

Livvi’s Place is part of Touched by Olivia’s national strategy to work with communities across the country to create inclusive playspaces. Livvi’s Place Jordan Springs is a partnership project between Touched by Olivia, Penrith City Council and Lend Lease, who have both already donated $150,000 each.

Stuart Ayres, State Member for Penrith, was thrilled to be on the Jordan Springs site to share the good news with parents and kids that Livvi’s Place had been granted $38,000 in the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership fund after pooling funds with Member for Londonderry, Bart Bassett.

Local parents were delighted to hear that the plans for the playground were ready for review after a long consultation period last year, and the kids were excited to see that what they had asked for was included.

Touched by Olivia Executive Officer, Bec Ho, shared her thoughts on the design. “It was very clear in our community consultation sessions that families need shade and water. The water area is really creative and will allow everyone to truly access the water play. The layout of Livvi’s Place, the social areas and the planting are really detailed and we’ve been working with lots of local service providers to develop a space that meets their needs – for example, the See Foundation. There is a beautiful sensory garden, and we love the accessible bounce pads.”

Ross Fowler OAM, Penrith City Council Mayor said: “Penrith City Council are committed to providing these facilities across Penrith. We’re excited to be partnering on this project, and have contributed $150,000 to developing this new playspace, where people of all abilities will be able to experience the joy of playing side by side in their local park. I know it will be a tremendous asset for our Penrith families.”

“Lend Lease is proud to have contributed towards the inclusive playspace at Jordan Springs. This playground will be a great source of fun for families in the region to use and for the first time allows an inclusive play environment for all children to enjoy. This outcome can not be achieved for the local community without Touched by Olivia Foundation, Penrith Council and Lend Lease all working together,” said Paul Gerlach, Regional Development Manager of Lend Lease.

The design for Livvi’s Place was developed by world leading landscape architects, JMD after a 6 month consultation with community, who are invited to have a look and give feedback online  and in person at the first fundraising event – a special screening of the Lego Movie at Skyline Drive Ins on May 3rd. Activities include a Lego building competition and Stockland Pyjama Fashion Parade. Tickets are just $25 per car and available online through Eventbrite. 

Drive In Movie Night – 3 May 2014

Drive In Movie Night – 3 May 2014


Saturday 3rd May 2014 – Drive In Movie Night

Supporting Livvi’s Place Penrith

There are still lots of tickets available to Come Play With Us at a very special screening of The Lego Movie – help us to raise funds & awareness for our first inclusive playspace in Western Sydney – Livvi’s Place Jordan Springs.

Lego Builders: Bring your own creative creation or make one on the night! Win a Lego Movie Lego Set.

PJ Parade: Get rugged up and rock your pyjamas for a chance to win a $100 Stockland voucher!

$5 combo deals available for pre purchase with tickets.




Luke’s Place Opens

Luke’s Place Opens

On March 28, 2014, we celebrated the opening of Luke’s Place, the first inclusive play space in the Illawarra to join Touched by Olivia Foundation’s Livvi’s Place National Network of Inclusive Play Spaces.
Watch this video of Luke’s Place Opening



Luke’s Place began with a simple dream: To live in an inclusive community, where my son and other people living with disabilities, can participate, contribute, and be valued. Our son Luke has shown us there are many barriers to people living with a disability, that prevent them from achieving this dream, a dream that many of us take for granted.
It was nearly 24 months ago, that we volunteered to become the Community Driver for the Touched by Olivia Foundation, after seeing their inspiring mission to create an inclusive play space network throughout Australia.  Through play, children learn and develop their social skills, participate, and make friends.  These skills and relationships are crucial to their development and their ability to go forward and live a meaningful life.   Without an inclusive play space, children with challenges like my son Luke, are denied these opportunities.
We have met and worked with many amazing people and organisations over the past 24 months who helped turn our dream into a reality.  I would like to thank our key sponsors:Lean On Me Foundation, St George FoundationPrimary Club, Illawarra Coal,Bluescope/WIN Community Partnerships Program, Master Builders ClubNorthrop Engineers, Disability Trust, and Interchange Illawarra.
There were also many fabulous community volunteers that helped make it all happen, including the Webb Family and Belinda Harding. In a sense, the whole event could not have come together without the valuable assistance, guidance and financial support of our project partners, Wollongong City Council.
We hope you can all come and play with us at Luke’s Place, Corrimal Memorial Park, Corrimal.
Sean and Rita Rapley, Community Champions and Luke and Ella’s parents


You are invited to celebrate the opening of the first Victorian playspace in the Livvi’s Place National Network.

We are very proud to share this special day with you, the realisation of over 2 years of dreaming and planning to create a special place where all of the community can reconnect, play and enjoy the space equally, regardless of differences.

This project is a result of a collaboration with Brimbank City Council, and is supported by major partners Leighton Contractors and Commonwealth Bank.

The opening will be a fun filled event with music, balloons, face painting, a free BBQ for the whole community and the Commonwealth Bank Treasure Hunt with prizes for the first 100 people to complete the challenge!



Our newest inclusive playground, Livvi’s Place Ryde, has had the first sod officially turned by Henry Perkins, assisted by the City of Ryde Mayor, Artin Etmekdjian, Federal MP John Alexander and Touched by Olivia’s founding Director John Perkins.

A fun morning tea was hosted by City of Ryde and Touched by Olivia at Yamble Reserve, on the site of the new playground. Local preschools, Cerebal Palsy Alliance and all the wonderfully generous stakeholders and supporters were in attendance to celebrate the next step in our journey for a special and socially inclusive place in the Northern Districts of Sydney.

Hargraves Landscaping will commence construction early September with a big party planned to launch Livvi’s Place Ryde in early December.

We would like to thank our generous partners and champions, who have helped make this project happen: City of Ryde, John Alexander MP, Victor Dominello MP, Andrew Constance MP, Communities for Communities, St George Foundation, Forming Circles, AECOM, Hyecorp Property Group, Crown International and Boral as well as a number of wonderful businesses in the community who have assisted and supported the project.


Brimbank City Council launched an innovative project that will see Brimbank’s firs inclusive playground built in the heart of St Albans, were people of all ages and abilities can gather and play.

Concept plans for the playground, to be built early 2013, were unveiled at a special launch celebration held onsite at Errington Reserve, Main Road East, St Albans. The plans will now be released for community feedbanck until 21 September 2012.

Once complete the partnership project between Council, the Touched by Olivia Foundation, Leighton Contractors, and supported by St Albans Connect and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia will deliver a playground that will be innovative in design and become a major community asset for St Albans, Brimbank, and the Entire Western Region of Melbourne. It will also be the first inclusive playground constructed in collaboration with TBO in Victoria.

Chair of Brimbank Administrators, Peter Lewinsky said Brimbank City Council was committed to creating better places for children and families to come together, play and socialise.

“Brimbank’s Creating Better Parks Policy and Plan has seen the transformation of about 60 playgrounds across our municipality since 2008. This particular playground, redevelopment is especially exciting because it will be the first fully inclusive playground located in Brimbank, as well as the first playground developed in our city as part of a collaborative partnership,” Mr Lewinsky said.

“The opportunity to partner with the Touched by Olivia Foundation to make Brimbank, and in particular St Albans, the home of the first TBO inclusive playground in Victoria was a fantastic opportunity for COuncil and the community. It also sits perfectly with Council’s vision for creating improved play spaces, creating connected, supported and welcoming communities and importantly our vision for the redevelopment of the Errington Precinct.”

Touched by Olivia Foundation Director, John Perkins, said TBO had chosen Brimbank as their site for the first Victorian Inclusive Playground in consultation with Play Australia and their national partners, Leighton Contractors.

“We saw St Albans as an ideal location for Touched by Olivia’s first Victoria inclusive playground with a high proportion of residents with disability,” Mr Perkins said. “We were also aware of Brimbank’s focus on revitalising their community with the provision of play and social opportunities and programming to support this.

“At the Touched by Olivia Foundation, our aim is to provide an inclusive playground in every community in Australia. The uniqueness of these playgrounds is that they cater for neurological impairment as well as physical impairment, able bodied users and adults in a public environment,” Mr Perkins said.

Managing Director of Leighton Contractors, Craig Laslett said; “We are committed to enhancing people’s lives and are very proud of our continued support of the Touched by Olivia Foundation and their important work in our local communities. The Errington Reserve Playground will be a first for Melbourne.

“After building the award winning ‘Livvi’s Place’, we’ve also pledged our support to create multiple playgrounds,” Craig said.

Commonwealth Bank Regional General Manager, Richard Porter said: “To help mark our Centenary, we asked our staff how they would like to give back to local communities. The Errington Reserve inclusive playground is one of ten deserving initiatives the Bank has chosen to become a reality and we are very proud to be a major sponsor of this ground breaking project. It will encourage children of all ages and abilities to play side by side, whilst also catering to the physical and emotional needs of all members of the community.”

The concepts plans for the park were developed by Council following initial community consultation led by St Albans Connect with key stakeholders in the community including Sunshine Special Development School, various support groups, St Albans Primary School and SCOPE.

Construction of the playground is expected to begin in November 2012.


REPLAY: Play Day

Wednesday 12 June 2013 from 10am – 12pm | Livvi’s Place Ryde: Quarry Road, Ryde

Join us for a morning tea to celebrate play in the community. There’ll be yummy things to eat and playful things to do.

We’re lucky to also be featuring a special performance from our ambassador, Jay Laga’aia, who will play his new song “Livvi’s Place” for the very first time.

To assist us with catering, if you are able to join us.


Earlier this week, we launched our new strategy. While the message remains the same (inclusion through play), we have spread our program reach to include a five school inclusive playspace pilot project.

To review the strategy, please click here.  We would love your feedback and of course, we are always looking for assistance.

So, how you can help us?

Our goal for an inclusive society connected through play can become a reality with your support.

  • We need government endorsement and funding.
  • We seek corporate sponsorship – pro bono and financial, as well as skilled staff volunteers.
  • We love community drivers and advocates who help us bring projects to life in towns all over Australia.
  •  Most of all, we ask you to help us spread the word about the benefits of inclusive play.
  • For more information, call Bec Ho on 414 506 606 or email her. 


The Touched by Olivia Foundation has teamed up with with Wollongong City Council in order to bring the first Inclusive Playground to the Illawarra.

This playground, to be built at Corrimal Memorial Park, will be a place for ALL of our children, regardless of ability, to play alongside one another safely. Our children will swing, spin, slide, laugh, breathe the fresh air and soak up the sunshine in a playground that will look to most, like any other playground. There will however, be some subtle differences that our children with special needs, their parents and carers, will enjoy immediately.

We need your help to bring this playground to life! Wollongong City Council has generously committed $125,000 to help fund this exciting project. We need to raise at least an additional $125,000.

On the evening of Saturday, 16 March 2013, we will come together in back tie at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach Grand Ballroom, for an exciting evening hosted by the wonderful Jay Laga’aia.

Ticket price includes a three course meal and beverage package, and a host of wonderful local acts, one of which has, and will continue to enjoy international success. There will be lucky door prizes, and a silent auction will run throughout the night.

Pull family and friends together to make a table of 10, and enjoy a 10% discount, or contact to enquire about our corporate table packages, or sponsorship packages.

We can’t wait to see you there! Email Jade at to purchase tickets, and help us to give our children with special needs, their parents and carers, a safe and inclusive place to play.



Sunday 3 February 2013
10.00am – 2.00pm
Yamble Reserve,
Quarry Road, Ryde

‘Livvi’s Place at Yamble Reserve’ is an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities to play, learn and socialise together.
This inspiring project has been a year in the planning and shows that great things can be achieved when the whole community pulls together to work for a common cause. Join us to celebrate the opening of Livvi’s Place.


The big day has arrived, and our fifth Livvi’s Place is opening with a massive party tomorrow – Sunday 2 February. Get down to Yamble Reserve, on Quarry Road at Ryde and be one of the first to play on Australia’s newest inclusive play space, spread over an acre and costing $1.5 million.

10am Opening with a bang – Rhapsody Studios

10.15am Welcome from our ambassador, Jay Laga’aia

10.20 Official opening ceremony with Ministers Andrew Constance and Victor Dominello, City of Ryde Mayor and General Manager, TBO founders and all round awesome people John and Justine Perkins and Danny Dickson from Children with Disability Australia.

10.45 The gates are unlocked and Livvi’s Place Ryde is declared open to play – thanks to our very generous supporters and sponsors! Make sure you grab a treasure hunt form and win a prize from one of our volunteers in pink shirts that say “I Love Livvi’s Place Ryde!”

11.45 Jay Laga’aia performs. Our favourite performer will get the toes tapping and the smiles spreading with his tunes.

12.20 Ave Maria – a touching performance by local dance troupe, Rhapsody Studios

12.45 Be amazed by Harry Mak, magician and puppet man!

We’ve organised face painting, sausage sizzles, coffee and ice cream for sale.

There is accessible parking available in Clermont Ave, and some parking in Quarry Road car park.

Livvi’s Place Ryde has a fully accessbile amenties block


Boundless Canberra is pleased to announce that this week it has formalised its partnership with the Touched by Olivia Foundation.

“The Touched by Olivia Foundation is a guiding light in Australia in terms of development of inclusive playgrounds,” Boundless Canberra Chair, Ross Barrett praised.

Touched by Olivia (TBO) has already built four inclusive playgrounds, known as Livvi’s Place, and has more planned.

“Our partnership with TBO will enable us to become part of its national network of inclusive playgrounds and seek peer review of our playground plans from TBO experts,” Mr Barrett explained.

The goal of the Boundless Canberra project is to build an AFL size playground on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin that is accessible to people of all ages and abilities. The playground will be a gift to the national capital from the ACT’s public servants and private sector to mark the Centenary of Canberra.

Once completed, Boundless Canberra will have equipment that can be easily accessed by children of all ability levels without being readily identifiable as ‘disabled access’ equipment and zoned spaces to cater to a range of different age and developmental levels.

Touched by Olivia Executive Officer, Rebecca Ho said, “We are very excited to work with the Boundless team to help them create a world-class inclusive playground that enables children and parents of all abilities and ages to play side-by-side.

“Across the country, TBO assists communities to come together and raise funds and we look forward to helping the people of Canberra build Boundless.”

“Canberrans have already enthusiastically embraced the Boundless project,” Mr Barrett said, “But we still need to raise more funds in order to complete construction of the playground.

“It would be wonderful if every public servant living and working in the ACT could donate $2 a pay to this inspiring project for the next 12 months. Donations are tax deductible and Department’s should have systems in place to help people set up an automatic deduction.”

Boundless Canberra, the national children’s playground, is proudly supported by the ACT Government’s Community Centenary Initiatives Fund.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the project or make a donation to Boundless Canberra can do so through the

For all media enquiries please contact Natalie Howson on 02 6205 5335

Read more about the partnership here


Touched by Olivia Foundation is proud to announce that we’ll start building our first inclusive playground in Victoria in early 2013, allowing children, parents and community members of all abilities and ages to play side-by-side.

Unlike normal playgrounds, the award winning TBO network of inclusive playgrounds cater forvision, hearing and mobility impairments as well as spectrum disorders such as autism.

“We are so pleased to improve the health and happiness of Victorian kids by catering to the physical and emotional needs of all members of the community,” says Rebecca Ho, Touched by Olivia Foundation Playground Project Manager.

“Through this project, children of all abilities will have equal opportunity to learn, grow and develop through play.”

Brimbank City Council has allocated space for the playground within their master-plan for the overhaul of Errington Precinct in St Albans. The playground will be a valuable contribution to the City of Brimbank which is ethnically diverse and, according to the 2011 Census, the most populous municipality in Melbourne’s West. Also throw into the mix that residents have one of the lowest median household incomes and more than 3,000 residents in St Albans are unpaid carers to people with a disability, and it becomes obvious the need is huge.

The not-for-profit community initiative is made possible through generous corporate support, including a major sponsorship by Commonwealth Bank. The Bank became involved when they asked staff how they would like to give back to local communities to help mark their Centenary year, and this was one of 10 winning ideas chosen to become a reality.

“It instils a sense of pride that as a Branch Manager for Commonwealth Bank, my staff and I have been encouraged to identify and support deserving local community initiatives. This being Commonwealth Bank’s Centenary year, there has been an even greater emphasis on how we can positively impact local communities. This project in particular resonates with many people, as it is doing something for families who have the huge day-to-day responsibility for caring for those less fortunate,” Commonwealth Bank St Albans Branch Manager, Thao Parsons, says.

It is the mission of the TBO Foundation to create an inclusive playground in as many communities across Australia as possible. There are currently four operational inclusive playgrounds in Australia, with St Albans, Ryde NSW, Penrith NSW, Perth and Jindabyne NSW all planned to open in late 2012 and first half of 2013. Construction of the St Albans playground is scheduled to begin.

A great video highlighting this partnership is available to view here.


Today, the director of a social business focused on changing how we conduct business in the 21st century, pledged $25,000 for a playground designed for children of all abilities to play together.

Renata Cooper, a social entrepreneur and businesswoman, started Forming Circles in 2011 to share her knowledge and good fortune from smart investments. As a long time supporter of Touched by Olivia Foundation, she knew that she wanted to find a project that she could financially and creatively support with this charity.

Touched by Olivia Foundation is an Australian charity, founded by John and Justine Perkins in 2007 after the loss of their eight month old daughter, Olivia. Touched by Olivia Foundation enables children to have healthier and happier lives through funding a medical research fellowship at Sydney Children’s Hospital to find a cure for the rare disease that took Olivia’s life. The second initiative is to build a network of inclusive playgrounds across Australia, where children and families can play side by side, regardless of ability.

“I’ve supported the Touched by Olivia Foundation for a number of years, attending their annual Butterfly Ball and I’m constantly impressed by the professionalism and fun they bring to life in events,” she said.

“As a mother who has experienced loss of children, I felt a real connection, and I knew that I wanted to make Touched by Olivia one of my key partners in our community platform at Forming Circles. I believe that every human being should have the right, and everyone should be included in the circle, whether it’s in the playground, school or business life, so playgrounds are a great partnership vehicle for us.”

Mrs Cooper founded Forming Circles to help amplify the voices of Australian’s who are either creative, entrepreneurial or in need of support.

“ Donating to Australian charities making a difference is a big deal for Forming Circles. As a company with a social conscious, we want to know where our funds are going, and how they are being used. Our relationship with the Foundation means that we can be part of the project and see the true benefit of the project we are helping to fund.”

The cheque was received by Touched by Olivia Foundation’s Founder, Justine Perkins.

“Touched by Olivia’s goal is to have an inclusive playground for every child in Australia. It’s a big goal, and a lot of funds need to be raised to make this happen. We are grateful for not just the financial support of Forming Circles, but also for the community support. Forming Circles has a wonderful group of people all dedicated to making a greater Australian community, which is what we are all about at Touched by Olivia – bringing all people together, regardless of difference”, said Mrs Perkins.

“We’ve found in our research that if a child under the age of five plays with child with a disability, they learn to accept them as they would a kids with red hair, or blue eyes. What we are doing is creating a generational change in the way the disabled community is included in all aspects of life.”

The Forming Circles grant of $25,000 will be used to purchase equipment for the Livvi’s Place Inclusive Playground under development in Ryde, NSW, due to open in the second half of 2012. Touched by Olivia is rolling out a network of inclusive playgrounds across Australia with 42 sites earmarked and seven projects currently in development, including Ryde. This strategy was recently awarded the World Leisure Innovation Award at the annual conference in China, and was nominated for the National Disability Inclusive Community Award.


A children’s charity focused on creating inclusive community playgrounds announced the latest project will be in the Illawarra, after Wollongong City Council donated $125,000 of its playground upgrade funding to the project.

Corrimal Memorial Park will be the home of Touched by Olivia Foundation’s next playground, and part of a national strategy to create inclusive play grounds in 42 sites across Australia.
Inclusive playgrounds are specially designed children’s play areas where children of all abilities, irrespective of their challenges, be they physical or neurological, can play side-by-side with children of typical ability, in a secure area.

The concept was started by the Touched by Olivia Foundation at Livvi’s Place, Five Dock, which was completed in November 2009, as a tribute to the tragic loss of 8 month old Olivia Perkins who died of a rare disease called Lymphangioma.

Sean Rapley, a local community driver for the Touched by Olivia Foundation said that he was excited about the possibilities this partnership created.

“Having a child with special needs means I understand first hand the difficulties families face when trying to find spaces for us to be together. We want our special needs kids to be part of our community, and we want our special needs kids to be become accepted and valued in our communities. It all starts in the playground when our children are young. That is what makes this park such a wonderful idea” Sean said.
“I’m a local resident and I knew that we really needed this opportunity for our community. My wife Rita and I are looking forward to working with Wollongong City Council and the wider community to create this playground for all children.”

A stakeholder feedback forum will be held on November 3, 2012 at Corrimal Community Centre.

“This is a great opportunity for local families to tell the playground designers what they and their children need in the playground design, and it is also an opportunity to meet and become part of the community support group helping to make this playground to become a reality.” Sean said.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor, Councillor Gordon Bradbery, OAM, was excited about the development of the park.

“All children should have the opportunity to play, to have fun in a park or playground, and to be among friends. The Illawarra Inclusive Playground is where children and parents of all abilities and ages can play side-by-side,” Councillor Bradbery said.

The Illawarra Inclusive Playground Project is gratefully being supported by the community, council and government at various levels but still needs to raise funds for the development of the park.


Touched by Olivia Foundation has run on the physical and financial support of you, our friends and network. While we are up to our elbows in wrapping paper and packing for holidays, it’s time to send you some gratitude and reflect on how your support has helped make our dreams for 2011 come true.

Since inception, we’ve had two goals to increase the health and happiness of children 1) to improve the awareness and support of people suffering from vascular disease, in particular lymphatic malformations and 2) to ensure there was an inclusive playground in reach of every community in need. We’d worked out that there were 42 locations across the nation, and set about a 10 year plan to make this happen. Early 2011, this strategy really kicked into gear as we added to our play ground network numbers 3 and 4 – Livvi’s Place Dubbo and Livvi’s Place Hawthorne Park.

There’s a stack of new sites under development across Australia in partnership with governments, businesses and communities including Livvi’s Place Ryde, NSW, Pia’s Playground, Whiteman Park, WA, Penrith, NSW, Jindabyne, NSW, and St Albans, VIC all scheduled for 2012, plus a host of other locations in various stages. Every project has a dedicated community driver who’d love your support. If you can volunteer your skills and time, or if you are a business who’d like to sponsor a piece of play equipment or contribute in any way, we’d love to hear from you. Pleasedrop us a line to make a huge difference to the kids of Australia for many generations.

In November, we were awarded the International Innovation Award for the Inclusive Play Space Network and headed over to Hangzhou, China as guests of the World Leisure Organisation. One of the key deciders for the award is that “the project should be “inspirational” or demonstrate a “feel good” factor.”

While there were many highlights of the conference, the stand out was watching hundreds of international delegates watching our presentation with huge smiles on their faces.

A few days later, we headed to Parliament House in Canberra as a nominee for the National Disability Awards for our contribution to creating inclusive and accessible communities. An inspiring ceremony, we returned super charged to ensure our next event (the national event for International Day of People with Disabilty in partnership with Children with Disability Australia) delivered.

And it did. The unpredictable Sydney weather held for us, as the sun shone all day long over our flagship playground Livvi’s Place Five Dock. Families enjoyed the fun and free activities and amusements, and we welcomed Senator Jan McLucas, who shared with us the announcement that Touched by Olivia Foundation had been granted funds to host a national inclusive play consultation. The dream of an all abilities playground within reach of every family in need is closer to reality.

Continuing our fantastic fundraising efforts over the last 4 years, this May we hosted our fifth Butterfly Ball to support strategy 1. In true Touched by Olivia style, our guests embraced the Viva Las Vegas theme, enjoying performances from Tom Jones, Elvis himself and showgirls as well as our wonderful ambassador and MC, Jay Laga’aia. Thanks to our guests and generous sponsors we were able to raise $185,000 for the Touched by Olivia Vascular Birthmarks Fellowship at Sydney Children’s Hospital to continue their ground breaking research. In total, we have raised almost $1 million for the Sydney Children’s Hospital, helping position it as one of the leading facilitors of research into vascular disease. They have produced a number of medical publications, a clincal trial with fantastic results and allowed us to network with families from all over the world with kids who suffer from this family of diseases. Day by day we are moving closer to understanding the disease more and will continue to our efforts to one day find a cure.

(P.S. Don’t forget to try to spot yourself on Planet Cake – Lifestyle Food this Wednesday evening).

It’s been a full and productive year made possible thanks to you. The efforts of our amazing team of dedicated volunteers were recognised at the NSW Volunteer Team of the Year awards earlier this month at NSW Parliament House and we couldn’t be prouder of you all. The TBO family is a generous spirited, playful and positive group of talented and passionate individuals who embody the saying “be the change that you want to see in the world”.

We look forward to continuing to share the journey with you in 2012. Until then, may the force be with you and yours this holiday period.

From all the gang at Touched by Olivia Foundation

(View full e-news by clicking here)


The sun shone all day Saturday as we hosted the national event for International Day of People with Disability, “Playability” on our flagship inclusive playground, Livvi’s Place at Five Dock. Visitors were treated to a free day of fun thanks to our sponsors, Endeavour Foundation, Warwick Williams Real Estate, Canada Bay Club, FAHCSIA and City of Canada Bay.

Undoubtably, the highlight of Playability was a very special announcement from Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas. Below is the press release from her department:

“An all-abilities playground built in memory of a young New South Wales girl whose life ended at the age of 8 months from a rare illness was today a place of celebration as part of International Day of People with Disability.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas today joined in the family fun at Livvi’s Place, the first all-abilities playground for children established by the Touched by Olivia Foundation, where she announced funding for the development of inclusive playground guidelines across the country.

“All children should have the opportunity to play, to have fun in a park or playground, to be amongst friends,” Senator McLucas said.

“Livvi’s Place is where children and parents of all abilities and ages can play side-by-side.”

“The Foundation is working to establish nationally accepted and endorsed Inclusive Play Design guidelines and I’m pleased to announce that the Gillard Government will provide $50,000 to support this great work. “

Inclusive playground features include soft fall rubber flooring, visual and audio stimulation and is configured to maximise creative, physical, social and cognitive play. The unique design enables children and parents of all abilities and ages to play side-by-side on the same equipment in a safe, secure environment.

“Livvi’s Place is a wonderful example of ‘how to’ build truly inclusive playgrounds and we want to use this as a model for playgrounds all over Australia.”

“It’s not only built for people with physical disabilities, but also to cater for the needs of people with autism and intellectual disabilities.”

“We hope councils and builders will find the guidelines useful in developing more inclusive playgrounds.”

John and Justine Perkins founded the Touched by Olivia Foundation in 2006 in memory of their daughter Olivia to improve the health and happiness of children, raising funds and building playgrounds for children of all abilities.

Since then, the Foundation has built and opened four playgrounds with another eight under development, and 42 planned for communities around Australia.

“The Touched by Olivia Foundation was founded some five years ago following a family tragedy; it just goes to show that wonderful things can come out of terrible circumstances. What a beautiful legacy for Olivia,” Senator McLucas said.

The Touched Olivia Foundation was recognised at the National Disability Awards on November 22 at Parliament House, named a finalist for the Inclusive and Accessible Communities Award category.”

We are very grateful to receive the endorsement and funding of our Inclusive Play Design guidelines and are looking forward to working with the leading academics, practitioners, designers and playground users to create them in early 2012.


Touched by Olivia Foundation was honoured today with the World Leisure Innovation Award for developing a framework for inclusive playgrounds and advocating that play is for everyone in Australia.

Founding Director John Perkins was thrilled to finish the week with the announcement. “We received some great news. Overnight we have been informed that we have won the 2011 World Leisure International Innovation Award for our groundbreaking strategy to build inclusive playgrounds in Australia. For us, this is the ultimate award that we could hope to win!”

John’s wife and fellow founder Justine Perkins highlighted the rapid expansion of the network in response to communities needs.

“Our plan mapped out 42 sites, including the 3 outdoor playgrounds that have been opened in Five Dock, Dubbo and Brisbane. We’re now in development in Perth, Ryde, Melbourne, Penrith and Jindabyne with many new opportunities being unearthed weekly.”

This award is recognition for the hard work and generosity of Touched by Olivia Foundations supporters, sponsors, partners and volunteers.

In November, Touched by Olivia Foundation will accept this award at the World Leisure Expo in Hangzhau, China as part of the World Leisure Expo and present their strategy to an international contingent.

About Livvi’s Place Inclusive Playspace Network

In the darkest grief an adult might experience – the loss of an infant – two inspiring parents decided that their daughter’s death would not be in vain. Touched by Olivia Foundation was formed in Australia in 2006 with the key objectives to help create happier and healthier lives for children.

To gain a complete understanding of the foundation’s work, please view this overview video: v=Ego7KspIwK0&feature=related

In 2007, our first Livvi’s Place was birthed as an indoor facility in Campbelltown. Touched by Olivia Foundation initially wanted to build one more outdoor playground as a memorial to Olivia, the baby who’s passing had been the catalyst for change. As the committee and stakeholders began researching, they found that there was a need for truly inclusive play facilities in Australia, where children could play side by side, regardless of their abilities. Livvi’s Place in Five Dock was born. This play facility has been awarded the Best Playspace in Australia from Parks and Leisure Australia and has seen an increase in visitation from 150 to 1800 people per week.

The inclusive design has created a space that is more than a playground – Livvi’s Place has become a community hub, and a valued asset for the community. Please view this short clip regarding the facilities impact on the community here: v=0u5Nk22a5C4&feature=related


What makes the WLO Prize unique?

The major component that differentiates the Innovation Prize from the myriad of other awards (especially for tourism projects) is that it focuses on the social and cultural aspects of leisure as an aspect of the lived experience for individuals in a community and for visitors to the community. This Prize represents the use of leisure as a creative solution to enhancing collectively the social, cultural, environmental, and economic quality of life in an area. The WLO Prize seeks to recognize organizations that have implemented creative solutions that foster local, national, or international leisure opportunities for the benefit and development of individuals and communities. Leisure is considered in its broadest sense including play, recreation, the arts and culture, sports, festivals and celebrations, health and fitness, or travel and tourism. It encompasses indoor or outdoor programs, services, and amenities.

What is meant by Innovation?

Originality, creativity, and innovation should be demonstrated related to process (vision, management, and communications), resources (financial viability and human such as volunteers), partnerships and community involvement, outputs (program, events, and amenities) and outcomes. Further, the project should be “inspirational” or demonstrate a “feel good” factor. Innovation may mean a new idea or it may mean finding creative solutions through leisure to existing problems and issues. Innovations must demonstrate more than a quality program. In addition, applicants must demonstrate that their project does not exist elsewhere but it could be potentially adapted to other situations.”



Touched by Olivia Foundation was recognised for our contribution to the disability sector with a nomination for the National Disability Awards in the category of  “Inclusive and Accessible Communities”. This recognises the work by developers, builders and others in the building sector to create accessible buildings or facilities for people with disability.

The winners will be announced on November 22 2011 at Parliament House.