Merri-bek Council joins movement to reclaim suburban streets for play (media release)

18 February 2020

Merri-bek Council will be supporting local residents to gather on residential streets for activities and street play this month, as part of the 1000 Play Street program, delivered in partnership with Play Australia, Sport Australia, Latrobe University, CoDesign Studio and Nature Play Solutions.

Merri-bek Council was selected as one of five first Councils across Australia to pilot the project. Meaker Avenue, Brunswick West was the first street in Victoria to hold a Play Street event on Sunday 16 February.

The event was led by the residents of Meaker Avenue, who came together for a game of street cricket, the launch of their community worm farm, kids activities and food to share.

The program seeks to encourage residents to ‘reclaim’ their local streets and urban environments as places for neighbours to come together to build more active, connected and happier communities.

Street play and informal outdoor activity has declined over recent years. A recent Planet Ark survey (2011) found that 73% of adults say they played on the streets when they were young, compared to only 24% of their kids.

Play Streets seeks to reinvigorate neighbourhoods as environments for play and activity. Participating streets can temporarily close their street to cars and open the space up for safe, on-street fun.

Merri-bek Mayor, Cr Lambros Tapinos said the Council is proud to be collaborating with other Councils around Australia, contributing to the goal to activate 1000 Play Streets nationally over the next 5 years.

“We’re proud to be one of the first Councils piloting the Play Street Program. It’s a great community-led initiative that allows people, young and old, to come together and take ownership of their streets, creating stronger links to each other and to community environments,” said Cr Tapinos.

“I have fond memories of growing up playing on the streets of Brunswick. It’s so important that kids of today have the same opportunity to meet their neighbours and play together in our local streets and parks.”

Merri-bek Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing Plan aims to encourage a diverse range of active recreation and recognises the benefits of informal physical activity.

Merri-bek Play Streets will be in the following locations, with events over the next two months: Meaker Avenue, Brunswick West; McBryde Street, Fawkner; and Ronald Street, Coburg-North.

The pilot project will also inform resources that will be available to communities around Australia to encourage more street play.