Lost opportunity

The Adelaide Hills Council missed a prime opportunity to engage with the younger community last week when it demolished the makeshift BMX track built over several years by local children.
There’s no doubt the council is concerned for the broader safety of the community and has a duty of care to protect those who use and pass through its public land.
But the fact that the action took place only months after the same children took the initiative to engage with the council and present a petition calling for a more permanent facility, will have left a very negative view of government in impressionable young minds.
Only a couple of decades ago, parents, kids and possibly even the council would have worked together to build a similar makeshift bike track and an array of other improvised facilities, restricted only by imagination.
But today – in an era in which getting many children outdoors is an uphill battle – the bureaucracy surrounding such freedom and creativity shows how much our society has become prisoner to red tape and the threat of litigation.
Communities should be applauding the initiative and adventurous spirit of local kids who prefer to be outdoors and keeping active rather than remaining inside interacting with nothing other than a screen.
But instead the lesson they have learned is that the higher powers of government are there to restrict, not work with them.
The council has identified a lack of facilities for primary school aged children in its region and has committed to exploring ways to respond to the identified need.
But as in any government, the outcome will be preceded by a range of investigations, reports and even debate – all of which delay the result.
There’s no doubt these processes and procedures have their place and play an important role in ensuring the safety of the community and the wise use of funding.
But in this case, the rigorous adherence to protocol may have cost the confidence and trust of dozens of local children – something that may take time and effort to reverse.
Hopefully over the coming months the council will work with these children to find a solution that addresses their needs as well as the needs of the broader community, and in doing so, redeem itself in the minds of the next generation.