Symposium Outcomes 2017

Symposium success: Protecting the tradition of an unstructured outdoor play childhood

by Hyahno Moser, Nature Play QLD Program Manager

On 11 March 2017, the Nature Play QLD Symposium, ‘Just For The FUN Of It!' was held on the Gold Coast. It began beautifully with an amazing Welcome to Country facilitated by Yugembeh Yarga on the beach front.  

Close to 300 delegates joined Nature Play QLD to explore the importance of FUN and FREEDOM in facilitating unstructured outdoor play. The conversations were inspiring, heartfelt and enlightening. The general consensus for the day was ‘FUN and FREEDOM are in decline within modern children’s outdoor play’ and as a result there is a growing trend of children not wanting to go outdoor play. There was also a consensus that as providers of outdoor play, as parents, as community members, as educators, as local and state government representatives, we need to protect, plan, program and provide FUN and FREEDOM in children’s outdoor play opportunities.

The consensus was also that we need to start NOW. The urgency is high as children are retreating more and more indoors.

Hyahno Moser, Nature Play QLD Program Manager set the scene, highlighting the need, the urgency and the issue of FUN and FREEDOM declining in childhood, reminding us to protect outdoor play as a tradition of childhood.

13-year-old Patrick Brabant reminded us of the beauty of young people connecting with nature, and the simple steps of inspiring other kids outdoors.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg challenged everyone to ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ and highlighted the need for Government intervention on policy at all levels.

12-year-old Hunter Barrett showed us the challenges that modern children face in getting outdoors play.

Principal Bruce McLachlan from Swanson Primary in NZ, started the mantra ‘Stop Saying NO’ and showed what was possible within the school system, along with the benefits of taking the adult of play, for student’s wellbeing and learning.

Donna Little from waytobe guided the group to discuss and brainstorm a future for Nature Play QLD. 

Associate Professor DR Michael Nagel provided amazing insight into how important outdoor play is for nurturing the developing brains of children.

A wide variety of outdoor play workshops from Madeline Avic from Barefoot Nature Play, Sandi Phoenix from Phoenix Support, Susie Berkhut from Payne Road OSHC, Craig Williams from Yugembeh Yarga, Nigel Coates from Sparky Doo Dah and Carly Garner from Nature Weavers gave delegates more opportunities to focus their learning in specific areas.   

This was an inspiring day of discussion and learning, with a strong focus on taking away actions we can all implement for the benefit of the children we serve. The total audience present at this Symposium represented over 93,000 children. This is the difference events like these can make.

The challenge now is to put it all into action, to increase the FUN and FREEDOM factor, and protect the tradition of an unstructured outdoor play childhood.

Thank you to all who attended and contributed to an important, fabulous and fun event.


Video Footage



View Symposium photo album on Facebook and tag your friends and colleagues!  This album is public and visible even if you don't have a Facebook account.

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Speaker Notes provided

Facilitator Notes provided


Yulunga: Traditional Indigenous Games is a activity resource of over 100 traditional Indigenous games created to provide all Australians with an opportunity to learn about, appreciate and experience aspects of Indigenous culture. Yulunga: Traditional Indigenous Games presents a selection of games and activities played in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies. Traditional pastimes have been included along with some more ‘modern’ activities.

Read more about the resource here


"No Rules School", SBS Dateline, October 2014.

Bruce McLachlan, Principal of Swanson Primary School, Auckland.

“When you remove kids from any danger in the long run you put them in danger”.  Bruce McLachlan, Principal of Swanson School reintroduced the idea of risky unmanaged play, kids playing on their own terms, and the rest is history.



Nature Play QLD 2917 Symposium - external blog by Sparky Do Dah.

Joining In At The Nature Play QLD Symposium 2017 - external blog by Natura Pacifc

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