Legislative Assembly Hansard - 17 May 2018
Mr DAVID HARRIS (Wyong) (19:56:38): Matt Smith, a local resident of Hamlyn Terrace, contacted me via Facebook about a matter of concern in his suburb. Hamlyn Terrace, where I live, has many new houses on very small blocks of land with limited or no backyards. Many of the families placed portable basketball rings at the front of their homes. The children in the street would play together and when a car came along they would move the ring off the driveway or the road and put it back when the car had passed. Unfortunately, someone complained to the local council and the rangers asked everyone to remove their basketball rings.
Mr Smith was concerned that all of the children, who had been actively playing sport and getting fit, had returned to their indoor PlayStation. He said the whole vibe of the street had diminished. Mr Smith said that when estates with small blocks of land are developed, we should ensure that the open space and small pocket parks have not only swings and slippery dips for small children but also facilities for older children. He said a lack of amenities for older children can create social behaviour issues and contribute to obesity. He also noted concerns about children having to travel long distances to get to a nearby park with suitable facilities.
Mr Smith is very involved in basketball. He said that a small half court or one-third court located in a small park can be used for many activities. He said that basketball can be played by one person or up to 10 people on a small concrete court with a basketball ring. One of the local parks is being upgraded through the Community Building Partnership. Mr Smith is concerned that the park is getting replacement equipment only for the very young children and there is nothing for the older children. He asked me to contact the council—which I will do, and I am raising the issue in this place—to say that in suburbs with no backyards and narrow roads we have to start thinking outside the square. It is not necessary to build full basketball courts or tennis courts, or those types of facilities. We can build much smaller courts and get much the same result.
Mr Smith is someone who cares about the welfare of young people. In the community he organises basketball competitions and get-togethers not only with local kids but also at a regional level. He believes it does not matter what sport a person plays as long as they are playing some sort of sport and that physical activity is important. I am impressed that instead of sitting back and whingeing about the council and inadequate parks, Mr Smith came forward with good, affordable solutions that can be achieved quite easily. His suggestions will help to build vibrant communities and make sure our youth have proper facilities to encourage their physical activity and divert them away from other activities such as I have mentioned, involving socially bad behaviour, graffiti and so on.
Residents at Blue Haven have contacted me about a playing field where they take their children to play football on a Saturday morning being strewn with broken bottles. On the Friday night a local gang gets together and destroys things. If Mr Smith had his way, there would be organised activities for these youths. For example, we do not have a police citizens youth club in the northern part of the Central Coast, so it is up to local people such as Matt Smith to organise activities. At all levels of government we should be helping people like Matt Smith to facilitate programs that help to support activities for our young people. I thank Matt Smith for contacting me. I hope I can give him the support he needs to create these meaningful activities.