How skate parks can reduce local government risk

Risk Matters - Spring 2020

LGIS has also influenced the shape of our communities and the amenities available from skate parks to verge side gardens.

LGIS has supported member initiatives to change in response to community needs. Community spirit is ephemeral, but a part of it is creating spaces, which allow people to come together and share experiences.

Skateboarding – once seen as an “anti-social” activity has become an important element of a thriving local government area.

Especially those with a younger leaning demographic.

Most local governments now boast modern and complex skate parks filled with enthusiastic skaters.

Research out of UWA in 2014, found that kids who use skate parks “practise a range of pro-social behaviours”.

When skate parks started to grow in popularity, insurance claims began to appear in relation to their usage. In response LGIS offered Scheme risk consulting in this area recognising the many community benefits

Senior Risk Consultant Ian Proudfoot said antisocial behaviour is one thing they look at when they give advice in relation to the construction of new skate parks.

“A crucial component isn’t just opening the skate park properly, it’s activating the park and maintaining it,” he said.

“Local governments are encouraged to bring in experts and host skateboarding clinics to teach people how to skate.”

When kids know how to use the park properly the risk of injury is reduced, while engaged kids are less likely to take part in antisocial behaviour that can result in damage to other local government infrastructure.

Crime free communities are happier communities.

LGIS also provides risk consulting when local governments want to create mountain bike trails, sporting facilities, airstrips, and the activation of verges.

In 2017, LGIS supported the City of Bayswater in creating their new verge policy.

LGIS decided that raised garden beds (up to a height of 350mm excluding plants) had an “acceptable level of risk”.

This made the council the only one in Australia allowing residents to build raised beds on their verges.

These garden beds encourage community members to get out and share their love of gardening with their neighbours. Verge activations, supported by local government, are now becoming increasingly popular across WA, particularly in metropolitan areas.

On the other hand, 24-hour gyms are one area that causes concerns for risk consultants.

“There’s been a big push for gyms to be open for 24 hours,” Ian said. “Local governments want to do the same so they can be competitive.” But safety obligations are still in place even when there is no supervision and people who don’t know how to exercise properly can be injured.

“So local governments want to go 24 hours, but does the benefit outweigh the risk?”

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