Eliminating fear in our parks

Fear is a natural emotion, but it can can prevent us from doing things.

Particularly in parks, dark and open spaces are generally characterised with a feeling of ‘unsafeness’ which generally deters people from visiting them leaving them in an ‘underused’ state.

However, psychology professor Winnifred Louis says these public spaces can be saved through managing the risks.

“This is important, because when the community sees a public space as unsafe, they avoid it and this can be a catalyst of a vicious cycle where because of under-use, public space become less safe, less well-resourced and less joyful, which in turn makes them more likely to be seen as unsafe and avoided,” Winnifred said

The ACT government and private sector are working to eliminate this perception of fear in parks by overcoming the risk perceptions and injecting life into the City and Braddon.

Winnifred emphasises the idea of building up a diversity of facilities which draws a critical mass of people to a park at different times of the day, so that safety and perceptions of safety are maintained.

In The City Canberra encourages many events throughout the year in the surrounding parks and community areas, with the aim of creating positive spaces full of life where people feel comfortable going with friends and family. They are also installing an amazing array of lighting in trees that help activate, link and light up public spaces.

The ACT government is also making a considerate effort to remove any fear associated with our City’s parks.

Evidenced through the upgrades to existing safety concerns in the Braddon section of the Haig Park such as providing a straight footpath with improved visibility through the park, 29 new street lights, having trees no closer than two metres to the paths, and ensuring tree canopies will be trimmed to increase visibility.

While the current upgrades are necessary to ensure the safety of the park in the immediate future the government has also invited the community to make suggestions about how it would like to use the Haig park in the longer term.

For more information and to have your say on the Haig Park Masterplan click here.