Monash Council’s Westerfield Drive Sensory Playspace in Notting Hill was crowned the Best Playspace in Australia (in the under $500,000 category) at the recent Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) 2023 National Awards of Excellence.
The award recognises the playspace’s dynamic array of play elements that engage children’s senses of sound, sight, touch and smell.
Sensory pieces such as musical items, sculptures and a water pump blend with fun traditional play and nature play elements, including a trampoline, slides and swings, chess table and an insect hotel.
The play equipment is complemented by a vibrant mural co-designed by Hayden Dewar and First Nations artist Ashleigh Pugh, with input from the local community. An Access Key and Social Story published by Council and Access Ability Australia provides families with an accessibility guide to the playspace’s features.
The playspace was also praised for its achievement in increasing play opportunities for families in an area of Monash with an undersupply of public open space.
With the support of funding from the State Government’s Pocket Parks Program, Council was able to provide additional open space to the site, working with the adjacent Notting Hill Neighbourhood House to increase the playspace’s footprint from approximately 250m2 to over 750m2.
The national award builds on Monash Council’s reputation as a leader in inclusive recreation facilities. Two Council projects previously won state-level awards, with Oakleigh Recreation Centre winning a National Sports & Physical Activity Convention 2021 award for its facility design and development, while Wellesley Sensory Playspace won for best playspace under $500K at the PLA 2021 Awards of Excellence (VIC/TAS).