Child Friendly by Design

Child Friendly by Design

Child Friendly by Design (CFbD) Project

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The Child Friendly by Design (CFbD) Project, conducted by Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI), in conjunction with Griffith University's Urban Research Program (URP) is one of the activities that make up the Communities for Children Shellharbour Strategy, funded through the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy Initiative of the Australian Government. It aims to address the needs of young children and their families to give children the best possible start in life, directly assisting young children and the context in which they live, in the Shellharbour area.

Based partially on UNICEF's Child Friendly Cities strategies, the CFbD Project has involved children, young people and families in the design and redesign of spaces and places in Shellharbour. It has also developed a set of Child Friendly Indicators to assist planners, developers and designers in Shellharbour to create more child and family friendly spaces.


The CFbD Project has worked to celebrate and promote the child and family friendly places and spaces that currently exist in Shellharbour. The use of the project's Child Friendly Checklist and Indicators has been encouraged within the planning department of local council, and also at the developers' and urban designers' tables.

Many conventional town planning processes do little to give children and families a "voice" on what is important about the places and spaces that surround them. The CFbD Project has encouraged children and families to become involved in the planning and design process, as well as provided opportunities with council, developers and designers for this to occur. Part of this process has involved asking members of the Shellharbour community, children, families, business people and developers what they think a "child friendly" space looks like. This information has been used to formulate the CFbD Child Friendly Indicators, and will help to continue to make Shellharbour more child and family friendly.



Child Friendly by Design (CFbD) Consultancy

The Child Friendly by Design Project (CFbD) is coordinated by Healthy Cities Illawarra and works with agencies, organisations and local government to make child and family-friendly places and spaces a reality in local communities throughout Australia.


The CFbD Project has involved children, young people and families in the design and redesign of public open spaces. Many conventional planning processes do little to give children, young people and families a ‘voice’ on what is important about the places in their communities. The CFbD Project has sought to change this process and in doing so, has developed a Resource toolkit to help guide and direct practice, and share tools and resources of how you can make a place or space more child and family-friendly.

Consultation by the CFbD team involves different strategies ranging from Workshops, project planning, community consultation, designing for play, and plan development. Regardless of where a community or agency is in its vision to create child-friendly communities, we are able to design and coordinate a program that brings together children, young people, families and community members, with representatives from Councils, health, schools and local businesses and organisations.

Our CFbD Workshop series is often first step in the process. It has been created to support the implementation of the CFbD Resource Toolkit, and with a very ‘hands-on’ approach, assists with the translation of the theory of child-friendly spaces, into the practice of making child-friendly places. A range of tools and strategies are presented, together with ideas and working examples of designing child-friendly places, and ideas for working with children and young people, local government or planners and designers. These Workshops can be tailored to suit a particular focus of the organisation or community, with every delegate receiving a copy of the CFbD Resource Toolkit.

Our CFbD expert team consists of;

  • The CFbD team believes strongly that raising resilient children, young people and communities requires careful consideration of our built and natural environments, to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our communities is being optimised. Committing to engaging children, young people and families in the creation of great places is central to the aims of CFbD, in order to hNikke Gladwin, CFbD Project Coordinator and Playscape specialist
  • Assoc Prof Geoff Woolcock, CFbD Consultant, Child Friendly Communities Researcher and co-author of the CFbD Resource Toolkit
  • Prue Walsh, CFBD Consultant, Early Years Educator and advocate for Best practice in play space design to support children’s developmental needs.


The CFbD team believes strongly that raising resilient children, young people and communities requires careful consideration of our built and natural environments, to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our communities is being optimised. Committing to engaging children, young people and families in the creation of great places is central to the aims of CFbD, in order to hear voices like 9 year old Hannah’s:

“I like a place that you want to be in, where you can have fun, play on things for all different ages. Investigate, meet other families. Where people can see you and you can see them - Where you can just have fun and be a kid”.



Collaborative Design


 Child Friendly by Design offers a unique range of services to further support the initiation of child friendly projects in local communities.

This often commences with a community round table event where a wider range of stakeholders and community partners can come together to agree on a collaborative approach to supporting the project to fruition.

In line with the needs of Child Friendly developments the Child Friendly by Design expert team are able to plan and deliver a program of inclusive consultation at community level.  The CFbD approach includes 8 stages that concentrate on reflecting the aspirations of the local community, its heritage and demographics as well as the broader approach to recognising and including children’s play needs as defined by themselves.  The program carefully acknowledges the impact of design on children and young people’s development and recreational needs. Through taking this approach the team are able to ensure that the optimum play, development and recreational facilities are delivered, whilst meeting the overall objectives of the development.

The Child Friendly by Design Workshops provide an introduction to child friendly places and spaces and what they might look like, practical audit experience, presentation on how theories and the importance of play are translated into practice.

The workshop outlines the practical approach of turning the theory of child-friendly places into reality, through using a range of engagement strategies to ensure a collaborative approach. 

A range of tools, strategies and working examples of designing child-friendly places are presented, together with suggestions for working with children, young people, local government, community sector, and professionals such as planners and designers.

Full day workshops cater for up to 40 participants, and introduce the Child Friendly by Design Resource Toolkit as the who, what, where, how and why of the child friendly process. The take away kit provides working examples and case studies of how to make places and spaces child friendly.

The CFbD  Resource Toolkit provides useful tools and techniques to support practitioners to implement ‘grass roots’ level projects that partner with key community stakeholders to create great compensatory play spaces for children.

In addition to the introductory CFbD Workshops, the Child Friendly by Design Team can arrange bespoke training opportunities that support organisational outcomes and goals. The team can coordinate community events to start the CFbD process and also support community leaders in delivering consultation programs as part of their commitment to this ongoing training.

Workshops can also be delivered as part of the Client Design Process, in these instances workshops will include the opportunity for all partners to come together and review the current status of the CFbD findings and support the future direction of the Collaborative Design Process.

Our Commitment to Children & Families


The concept of a child-friendly place is not a new one – we can all remember as a child the places that we enjoyed being in and playing in. Most would agree that today’s society is full of barriers that inhibit children’s play choices. 

The importance of children’s opportunities to play is widely recognised as a platform that supports children’s health and wellbeing, learning and social development, as well as a vehicle to develop skills to support their journey into adulthood and build resilience to cope with modern day pressures.cfbd3kids

In order for spaces to be developed that children want to go to, be in and play in, we need to ask the experts - in this case the children!

Through the use of a creative range of engagement strategies, the experienced practitioners from the Child Friendly by Design Team use their trans-disciplinary skills to deliver a range of age and interest focused consultation activities. These are arranged with community based services that provide an audience of children and families with a vested interest in the development of nearby spaces.

These methods have proven to gather the ideas, aspirations and cultural history from communities that can be translated into reality, thus providing a child and family friendly space that reflects the community demographics. Through using the Child Friendly by Design process, successful outcomes include:

  • A space that supports children and young people’s self-identified recreational need
  • Community ownership    
  • Increased use of space
  • Community cohesion
  • A community that is connected through place
  • Feelings of value & belonging
  • A space that reflects the individuality of the / a new neighbourhood
  • A place that reflects local culture and history.



Child Friendly by Design Accomplishments 


2015 Consultancy Project for City of Clarence Council, Tasmania

In 2015 Child Friendly by Design consultant; Nikke Gladwin travelled to Tasmania to lead on a community consultation that would inform the design of the first all abilities play space in the City of Clarence. The report from the consultation outlined the need to include passive and exciting areas where children of different ages and abilities could play side by side.


2014 Consultancy Project for Communities for Children Shellharbour

Since its inception Child Friendly by Design have worked as a key partner of Barnardo’s Communities for Children Shellharbour Project. In 2014 the Project initiated a place based community capacity building project to support a community project to consult with local children and raise funds to improve their local play space. This was the first project in the Shellharbour LGA to include the voices of children and contribute to the Council’s work in creating a Child Friendly City. A report from this consultation activity will inform the Council Master Plan for community spaces.

2014 Universal Design Conference

Child Friendly by Design was invited to be on an expert panel of speakers at the Universal Design Conference in Sydney. Team member Nikke Gladwin shared her experiences of the importance of including the voices of children in creating urban environments that reflect the needs of all members of the community.


2013 Consultancy Project for OPAL / City of Playford

In 2013 Child Friendly by Design consultants travelled to South Australia to support a Child & Family Friendly imitative. Through the delivery of a bespoke Child Friendly by Design training workshop and a number of practical consultation sessions over a 6 month period, children and families were able to contribute to the improvement of a local walking trail.


2011 / 12 Child Friendly by Design Workshops


In addition to the Regional Workshops funded by the NSW Commission for Children & Young People the CFbD Team have had a busy year delivering training presentations to a wide audience. A range of service for fee work has been delivered.

  • Child Friendly Workshop OPAL, South Australia
  • Reaching children, young people and communities through place presentation – Child Friendly Cities Conference – Bendigo
  • Place Based Working – NSW Office of Communities
  • Child Friendly spaces, places, communities and cities – Camden for Kids
  • The Journey Beyond the Initiative – Children, Young People and the Built Environment – NSW Commission for Children & Young People
  • Communities 4 Children Plus Kempsey – Adventure Play Ground (partnered with Play Environment Consulting)
  • Child Friendly Principles and Practice – Penrith City Council
  • Child Friendly by Design – Tourism Wollongong City Council / Healthy Cities Illawarra Korean Delegates Tour
  • Capturing the Voices of Children – NSW Health Symposium
  • The CFbD 2528 Experience – visit from public workers and members of parliament, Government of the Province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia


2011 / 12 Extending the Child Friendly Process

During this phase the CFbD Project was extended to a new area in Shellharbour. This extension focused on working with the community to build capacity to raise funds to develop spaces, increase connection and place based activity. This project continues to operate and has received additional funding to further the work in this disconnected community. This project has attracted a wide range of community support and external funding to increase the capacity of volunteers and opportunities for children and families.


For more information about the CFbD consultancy and costs please contact;
Nikke Gladwin, Project Coordinator 
Child Friendly By Design Project ,Healthy Cities Illawarra

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Phone: (02) 4283 8111

An information brochure on the CFbD Workshop services is available click here to download