Charities join forces so all kids can play















Touched by Olivia and Variety – the Children’s Charity  have announced a new partnership that more inclusive playspaces will be created across Australia.

Watch the video here

Over the last decade, Touched by Olivia has developed a unique collaboration model, working with communities, councils and developers to build more than 30 Livvi’s Place’s inclusive playspaces across Australia.

“The partnership between Variety and Touched by Olivia is a perfect fit.  With children and their families at the very heart of all we do, it’s heart-warming to meet another charity with a shared passion to deliver inclusion through play to Australian communities.  This partnership is a wonderful example of organisations coming together for the greater good and we are excited about how much more we can achieve together,” Touched by Olivia co-founder Justine Perkins said.

The partnership with Variety will continue TBO’s active involvement in inclusive play over the years, and will help accelerate the vision of all communities having access to an inclusive playspace.

“Inclusion is central to Variety’s mission of giving kids a fair go. Whether it’s a wheelchair for a child with a physical disability, or a Sunshine Coach for a school to get their kids out in to the community, we are providing the opportunity for kids to be included.” said David Sexton, the CEO of Variety – the Children’s Charity NSW/ACT.

The first Variety Livvi’s Place was officially opened in Bankstown on 28 September, with additional playspaces in planning in Taree, Glenfield, Blacktown City and Young.

Touched by Olivia will continue to honour Olivia Perkins legacy with the second annual Random Act of Kindness day held on November 20th. You can take part in the kindness movement here.


An exciting announcement was made by the the Hon. Anthony Roberts, Minister for Planning and Housing and Fiona Morrison, Commissioner of Open Space and Parklands yesterday at Livvi’s Place Ryde. Read below for more information. 

Imagine taking your child to a playground on a sunny spring morning and seeing the playground full of parents and carers enjoying each other’s company surrounded by children laughing, playing and taking delight in the beautiful surroundings of the park.

Now imagine your child not being able to participate. They can only watch the other children playing and having fun.

Imagine the feelings of disappointment, sadness and despair you and your child would experience.

Sadly, this is the reality that many NSW families across our cities and towns are faced with every day as about 90,000 children aged between five and 14 live with a disability.

This is not acceptable and we need to do more to address the inequality of these situations. Our parks and play spaces are essential to the growth and development of our children.

It is through play that children and young people learn to socialise, negotiate risk, challenge themselves, make friends, develop their imaginations and learn to make decisions.

Playgrounds and parks are spaces where children of all abilities and from all walks of life can strive to work together to conquer challenges, imitate and learn from each other and build friendships, irrespective of physical or mental ability.

Imagine their parents sitting, engaging with other parents and carers witnessing their child being welcomed.

For the parents and carers, play spaces and parks are indispensable meeting points where support, friendship and relief can be found.

As the heart of our suburbs, our parks and play spaces must be places that welcome everyone, regardless of ability and background.

The commitment to create places that are equitable and available to people of all abilities is central to the work of the NSW government and many organisations, including the Touched By Olivia Foundation.

Through the creation of inclusive play spaces and parklands, where children and carers of all abilities can come together to play and to support each other, our community will ­become more resilient and tolerant.

The network of Livvi’s Place play spaces across NSW is a significant step in establishing places where all children can play, but more work needs to be done.

The NSW government is committed to creating more play spaces where all children can play and where carers of all ages and abilities can enjoy time with their children and their neighbours.

I’ve tasked the NSW Commissioner for Open Space and Parklands, Fiona Morrison, to focus on working with the community to create parks and play spaces that are planned, ­designed and managed under the principles of universal access and to create more inclusive play spaces for our communities.

Work has started to ensure play is equal and available to all.

Through understanding the challenges so many NSW families are faced with, the new Inclusive Play Guidelines, which are being finalised and will be released by the end of 2018, will promote inclusion across the state and provide the tools for designers to create play spaces that are equitable, enjoyable, fun and equal.

To previews the guidelines look here:

Now, picture the child I mentioned earlier, having the freedom to swing, roll, run, climb, slide, explore, create and build at their choosing. Complete equal autonomy. ­

Imagine their parents sitting, engaging with other parents and carers witnessing their child being welcomed, accepted and smiling.

That is the future this government intends to provide for every child in NSW. While there is much work to be done, the commitment has been made and work has started to ensure play is equal and available to all.

From the Daily Telegraph 9 November 2017

Inclusive Play hits S.A.

Inclusive Play hits S.A.

We are so excited to have broken ground at the first inclusive playspace in South Australia with our partners from City of Marion and the South Australian Government.

Livvi’s Place at Hendrie Street Reserve will open in April 2018 and is made possible thanks to the support of our sponsors Primary Club of AustraliaBoral, Ian Kissock, Bank of South Australia and generous grants from the SA Gov.

The design is fantastic and the team at council who have designed and guided this project have been exceptional – massive shout out to Alicia Clutterham who seeded this prophecy four years ago at a Parks and Leisure Australia conference in Newcastle and her team including the excellent Brett Grimm and Renee Pitcher.

We were delighted to have our champion and ambassador Quentin Kenihan there to officiate and the visionary Kelly Vincent cheering us on. Huge thanks to Katrine Hildyard MP, the Minister for Disability and Sport and Recreation, for being part of something so wonderful and celebrating inclusion with us yesterday as she represented the South Australian Labor government and Deputy Premier Hon John Rau MP.

Everyone was moved and almost as excited as the young local family who’s daughter attends Suneden Special School – they urged people to get on board and support the next stage ❤️❤️

It’s a great time to be part of something really great in SA.



Access over inclusion

Access over inclusion

9_amywagenfeldIt’s not often that we love an article so much, we post it on our website, but this one from Amy Wagenfeld is too good not to share!

Inclusive design is “design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.” Unlike accessible design, which is often stigmatizing, institutional looking, and possibly embarrassing for users, universal and inclusive design is sensitive to users’ physical, cognitive, and emotional needs, and is aesthetically pleasing. Universal and inclusive design is about equity and parity.

If we step back and look at the whole child, there is more to universal and inclusive design than, say, addressing physical challenges. In an ideal design scenario, universal and inclusive children’s outdoor environments nurture the child’s intellect, emotions, sensory systems, and yes, physical skills. Below are ideas for inclusive and universal design, and why they belong in all children’s outdoor environments.”

Designing for All Children

Talk Play to Us

Talk Play to Us

 We know that the most important part of our process is talking to communities before a design is even drawn. We want to know what the priorities are, the things needed and the great big ideas communities want included in the design of their playspaces.

To make sure we are always listening, we survey a lotThe answers become reason to make play happen in communities all over the country, and tell individual stories and challenges to access quality play.

If you are passionate about play and inclusion, please help us to continue our research by completing this very short survey today.   

Every community Touched by Olivia works in gets the full consultation – we talk to kids, families, decision makers, service providers – everyone who will share their thoughts on inclusion is heard. We then  take your ideas and turn them into a brief for the designers, who bring it all to life with the support of all levels of government and industry.  Below is a short video about the process and why it is important from the Advocate for Children and Young People in NSW.

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Livvi’s Place Jindabyne Opened!

Livvi’s Place Jindabyne Opened!

Livvi’s Place Jindabyne opened for all on Sunday 20th March. This exciting new inclusive  playspace is located at Banjo Paterson Reserve, Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne.

Livvi’s Place Jindabyne is the result of a partnership with Snowy River Shire Council, in conjunction with national charity, Touched by Olivia Foundation, and is supported by the NSW Government.

Touched by Olivia relies on volunteers to help realise the dream of inclusion. Local community driver Louise Williams is a long term resident who has seen this 5 year project come into fruition.  Louise  went to council with a vision and from there has worked with Touched by Olivia  to drive this project, leading fundraising campaigns, assisting in design and coordinating volunteer events. She has stamped her spot at Livvi’s Place with a paver that she has purchased reading ‘Be the change you want to be in the world’.

Local MP John Barilaro has championed Livvi’s Place from the very beginning. Mr Barilaro believes that the children of the region are the real winners here, and applauded the project’s initiative to bring together both state and local government with the community.

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Mayor John Cahill from Snowy River Council said, “I would like to acknowledge all those involved in delivering this project. It is a great example of the importance of working in partnership with our community, TBO, State and Local government. Council is delighted to have a great new asset for our community that will be accessible for all abilities.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 4.43.04 pmWATCH NOW – Jindabyne Opening Video


Livvi’s Place set to make  a splash at Jordan  Springs

Livvi’s Place set to make a splash at Jordan Springs

Touched by Olivia and Lendlease today joined the Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, Member for Penrith, and representatives from Penrith City Council to celebrate the start of construction of the newest inclusive playspace in Australia, Livvi’s Place at Jordan Springs.

On completion, Livvi’s Place will be a state-of-the-art playground for people of all abilities to play side-by-side on the same equipment, ensuring full integration of children and families with differences.

After five years of fundraising and planning, the Hon. Stuart Ayres MP, Member for Penrith, and General Manager for Lendlease’s Communities business in NSW/ACT, Arthur Ilias, shared the honour of turning the sod on the project site, which will see the construction of the 2,400m2 space.

Stuart Ayres said, “Inclusive playspaces like Livvi’s Place serve as a great social outlet for all children, allowing them to build friendships and enable them to live healthy and active lives.”

The design of Livvi’s Place was guided by principles of Universal Design and was developed in consultation with local children, people with disabilities and their families and carers, local schools and academics. The area will boast a number of interactive spaces, including a large water play area, a sand pit, trampolines, swings, a range of play equipment, a performance stage and picnic areas at the nearby Northern Road Oval.

Justine Perkins founded the Touched by Olivia Foundation in 2007 after the death of her daughter Olivia and has since built 18 inclusive playspaces across Australia.

“Playing together is how kids learn how to be accepting of others. We are building public spaces that invite kids with differences to play side by side with all of their community. It is our obligation as a society to make inclusion a priority. Inclusive playspaces will create a change in the way people with differences are perceived. Livvi’s Place is a really special project. It has been driven by a great need in the local community.”

Arthur Ilias said the new playground by Touched by Olivia will be another great space for residents of all ages and abilities.

“Livvi’s Place is part of our ongoing commitment to providing a sense of place and belonging at our communities. We look forward to watching the community come together in what will be a magical space,” said Mr Ilias.

Livvi’s Place Jordan Springs is the result of a collaborative partnership between a corporations, not-for-profit organisation and state and local government. It has been championed by Penrith City Council.

Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown said, “This is going to be a showpiece inclusive playground for the City and region. People of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy leisure time here with their family and friends for many years to come.

“Council is proud to be part of this state-of-the-art playground, which is a great example of local government, not-for-profit organisations and developers working closely together for the benefit of the community. “

The playground will also feature personalised pavers and trees donated to Touched by Olivia by businesses and the community. The park is scheduled for completion by late 2016.

As part of Jordan Springs’ development, Lendlease is providing sporting fields with hard courts, amenities and parking, lakes and water bodies, and 17 hectares of open space with parks, playgrounds and picnic areas.

To stay up to date, join our Friends of Livvi’s Place group here.


Play money: Victorian Government backs Livvi’s Place

Play money: Victorian Government backs Livvi’s Place

The Victorian Government has announced it will contribute $600,000 towards Hume City Council’s inclusive playspace at Craigieburn Park. Hume Mayor, Councillor Helen Patsikatheodorou, said the pledge was exciting news.

“This is a real win for Craigieburn, and the generations of children who will love what is set to be called Livvi’s Place,” Cr Patsikatheodorou said.

“The Victorian Government’s pledge will make a big difference as we create an area that can allow children to enjoy the wonders of play, regardless of their background or ability.

“Livvi’s Place will help children to gain fantastic skills, as its features enable youngsters to create, problem solve, and be independent.

“Hume will situate Livvi’s Place in the middle of Craigieburn Park, where the playspace will be popular for its slides, tunnels, swings, bridges, cubby house, and carousel.

“It shall be a place where families can gather and enjoy a wonderful time, thanks to timber seats, BBQs, picnic lawns, and shelter.

“Livvi’s Place is set to be a great park for children who love to explore, and it will also help Hume’s young people to get some exercise.”

The new playspace is intended to support one of Australia’s fastest growing suburbs, with Craigieburn’s population expected to jump from 44,000 in 2016 to 65,000 in 2031.

More than four per cent of Hume residents aged younger than nine suffer from a disability and require assistance.

Hume City Council in conjunction with Aspect Studio’s and Architect’s Peddle Thorp, has designed Livvi’s Place with technical advice provided by the Touched by Olivia Foundation, an organisation founded by John and Justine Perkins after their daughter, Olivia, died from a rare illness.

Cr Patsikatheodorou said Hume had asked many people about what they would like to see at Livvi’s Place.

“Our designers spoke with children at schools like Mount Ridley College, Willmot Park Primary School and Aitken Creek Primary School,” she said. “We also consulted with parents of children with disabilities, and people told us that they wanted things like musical elements, crunchy surfaces and fences.

“Hume City Council and the Touched by Olivia Foundation have incorporated these suggestions in the playspace’s concept plan, which was released in draft form in late 2015. Livvi’s Place will be an area that inspires so many, and it’s something everyone can look forward to.”

Craigieburn Park is to be situated near Craigieburn Central Shopping Centre, in a 12.14 hectare area bounded by Aitken Boulevard, Marathon Boulevard, Windrock Avenue, and Central Park Avenue.

The $48.5 million site shall include an aquatic and leisure centre, athletics track, war memorial, lush parklands, and a car park.

Cr Patsikatheodorou said the Victorian Government would support Livvi’s Place through the Interface Growth Fund.

“We’re very grateful that Minister Natalie Hutchins has established a fund to support infrastructure in the expanding outer suburbs of Melbourne,” she said. “I want to particularly thank the State Member for Yuroke, Ros Spence, who has helped to advocate on behalf of the inclusive playspace.”

The northern elements of Craigieburn Park are is expected to open in mid 2016 with the new Cragieburn Regional Aquatic and Leisure Centre opening in 2017.

Suzette Hosken (TBO Director) on site at the future Livvi’s Place in Craigieburn.
Touched by Olivia’s vision is “Inclusion through Play”

Touched by Olivia’s vision is “Inclusion through Play”

We believe that great things are achieved through building an ecosystem of like minded people, that leverage each other’s ideas and efforts so that the sum of the parts is greater than what otherwise would have been achieved.

Strategic partnerships are key to this vision, at all levels. By definition, strategic partnerships need to benefit all parties involved. Our strategic partnerships include the 4 pillars of Government, Corporate, NGO and Community, for example:

 1.       The Government sector – It is essential, in order to ensure success of any of our projects, to have endorsed sponsorship from Federal and State members. At a local government level, both political and executive ownership and sponsorship allows many “barriers” to be removed, so we can focus on the outcome of our vision: that all children can play side by side, regardless of their ability. In return, the government sector achieves much more effective infrastructure with a lower funding model.

2.       Corporate Sector – Essential to providing much needed funding and expertise. In return, corporate organisations with a focus in the construction and engineering sectors achieve significant cultural and branding benefits, as staff utilise their skills to work that will be a visible symbol of their efforts for a decade or more.

3.       NGOs – We believe in partnering with all NGOs, that share a common vision of Inclusion. We are not in competition with other NGOs, and openly share all information, contacts and practices to achieve a greater common good. We work closely with senior research and academic organisations to bring their expertise to the coal face of Inclusive Design.

4.       Community – Each project has a community driver that enables true community ownership of each project. The Community Drivers utilise the TBOF Community Driver Packs, that provide templates for fund raising, community consultation, corporate sponsorship, etc.

Through working with all sectors of society in strategic partnerships, more will be achieved with less.

Livvi’s Cafe Elara

Livvi’s Cafe Elara

“It starts with play and continues through to the work force…”


Brendon delivered a touching speech, short and sweet advocating for playspaces such as Livvi’s Place as the foundation for learning and growth.

Today marked the official opening of Livvi’s Cafe, Elara with Stockland and TBO members present to celebrate with Brendon and Deb, cafe owners, their family and local community.


All were welcomed by the smell of freshly made coffee, uniting the big kids.

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The Playspace and laughter uniting the little kids.

With many happy faces in attendance on this beautiful Sunday morning, the ribbon was cut and Livvi’s Cafe Elara is ready to welcome every member of the community!

(Postscript 2018 – Livvi’s Cafe at Elara has now closed for business.  Touched by Olivia thanks Debbie and Brendon for dishing up an amazing array of snacks, treats and coffees whilst supporting our cause.  Your smiles will be dearly missed).

Inclusive play in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Inclusive play in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“In July, I represented Touched By Olivia at Beit Issie Shapiro’s 6th International Conference on Disability, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

I gave a presentation on the benefits of inclusive public playgrounds and also gave some onsite feedback to Beit Issie Shapiro on their first inclusive playground.

The conference was strongly focused on the creation of an inclusive society that valued everyone for their contribution.

To that end the majority of the presentations looked at ways to remove the barriers and stigma that those with a disability often encounter.

One presentation I saw was from a Portuguese academic who had designed and built a robot that allowed autistic children to practice social skills in a non-threatening manner.

This experience reinforced to me how important vision and innovation are if we are to achieve the goal of an inclusive society.”

Ben Richards

Casey’s new inclusive playspace set to open!

Casey’s new inclusive playspace set to open!

The community is invited to join in the celebrations when the Deputy Mayor officially opens the highly-anticipated Livvi’s Place in Lyndhurst – the first inclusive playspace of its kind in south-east Victoria.

Council has worked in partnership with the Touched by Olivia (TBO) Foundation to deliver the playspace, located at the Marriott Waters Recreation Reserve, designed so that children of all ages and all abilities can play side-by-side.

The project is almost complete and will be officially opened by the Deputy Mayor, Cr Louise Berkelmans, on Sunday 13 September 2015 as part of a celebration hosted by TBO. City of Casey Mayor Cr Mick Morland said Council was excited to open this playspace to the community and encouraged residents to come along to the celebrations and ceremony.

“This playspace responds to the growing demand for a location in this region that allows children of all abilities to play together in a purposely designed environment. Council has worked closely with TBO to develop a space that is truly inclusive and accessible to all members of our community and we are excited that it will soon be open for everyone to enjoy.

“Every detail needs to be considered for a space to be truly inclusive and the design of Livvi’s Place reflects that, with accessible pathways, passive areas, sensory and tactile play spaces, ramps to equipment, full-fencing and accessible parking.

“There’s play equipment suitable for children of all abilities, including a double flying fox, slide, basket swing, climbing mound and net, interactive panels and a wheelchair carousel. As the only playspace of its kind this side of Melbourne, Council hopes this will become a destination for people across the region to meet and socialise while their children play,” Cr Morland concluded.

TBO Executive Officer Bec Ho said Livvi’s Place would be a much-loved gathering place and bring lots of enjoyment to so many in the community: “We have been fortunate to have the support of Therese Howell as our volunteer community driver for the project. Therese has brought together a group of passionate and committed people who have helped to design, fund and now build Livvi’s Place.

“I am delighted to see this beautiful place open and become a special space where all people can play, side by side, for many decades to come. That is true inclusion,” Ms Ho said.

Livvi’s Place will be officially opened on Sunday 13 September 2015 with Council’s ceremony at 11:30 am and celebrations to run throughout the day between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm hosted by TBO. The celebrations will include a barbecue, roving performers, a sing-along with children’s entertainer Jay Laga’aia, performances from local disability groups and face painting.

Livvi’s Place is located at Marriott Waters Recreation Reserve, Boland Drive, Lyndhurst.
The playspace represents an investment of more than $1.1 million, with Council contributing almost $900,000, the Victorian Government contributing $49,688 towards shade sails under the Department of Health’s Shade Grants program and the rest funded by business, individual and community contributions in support of TBO.

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.

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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.

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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.

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. 

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


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.



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. 


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.


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.