Caring for the Community

Whitehorse News - September 2021

Improving playgrounds in Whitehorse and beyond Since early 2020, Whitehorse City Council has been part of the Rotary Overseas Recycled Playground (RORP) program that is brightening the lives of children around the globe.

The program gives life to public playground equipment from play spaces that are being renewed as part of Council’s play space renewal program and repurposes them for use in less privileged countries. Council agreed to join the program with Rotary Flemington-Kensington in January 2020 and now works in partnership with Rotary Nunawading to facilitate it.

“The program started with sending a single playground to a girls’ home in Sri Lanka about five years ago,” said Bob Allardice from Rotary Nunawading, who leads one of the three collaborative groups in Victoria who operate the program. “We learned that many perfectly sound playgrounds end up as scrap or landfill when replaced. That’s where the RORP story began.”

Council renews play spaces to ensure they are compliant with current Australian standards. Much of this play equipment is still safe to use, so the RORP program repurposes this equipment for reuse overseas where standards differ. Rotary groups here liaise with those overseas to send over playground equipment to be repurposed.

Since joining the program, Whitehorse has donated equipment from 10 different playgrounds for reuse overseas. Two playgrounds have already been installed in Sri Lanka using equipment from Feiglin Park in Nunawading and Charlton Street Reserve in Blackburn North. Five more playgrounds are currently in transit to Sri Lanka and one is in transit to Timor-Leste.

The impact of Council’s contributions to the RORP program to these communities has been life-changing.

“It is an understatement to say it has been seen as a gift from heaven,” said Bob. “The opening of many of the repurposed playgrounds has featured on the evening news in Colombo. The smiles on the children’s faces have to be seen to be believed.”

“The children in Sri Lanka now have somewhere to play and explore that would not otherwise be available – think bare ground and not much else.”

“Whitehorse Council and its residents get to see their investment in their children’s playground extended to children overseas. We’re also helping the environment by saving playgrounds from going to the tip.”

Council is excited to keep working with Rotary Nunawading to continue improving and empowering our community as well as those around the world.

“Rotary is all about making a difference in the world and changing lives,” said Bob. “Through RORP, Whitehorse has directly made a huge difference to the lives of children they will probably never meet.”