GSF - Project Case Studies

The Eltham North Adventure Playground was built in 1995 by an active and passionate community. As a result, there is a strong, ongoing connection and sense of ownership of the playground. On 16 December 2017, the playground was destroyed by a deliberately lit fire.

In 2018, the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF) partnered with Nillumbik Shire Council (Council) to rebuild the Eltham North Adventure Playground. A grant of $569,641 from the GSF, in addition to a $349,407 insurance claim, enabled Council to commence the process of community engagement, design and redevelopment of a playground that is a social hub for the Eltham community and families in the broader region.

Early on, Council identified that community input would be a priority for the project. Over 12 months an extensive community consultation process was undertaken which reinforced the playground’s popularity and identified the type of play activities the community needs. Collectively, 1,204 community members identifies the most important elements of the rebuild should be: wooden materials – no plastic, undercover, adventure, swinging, climbing and cognitive and nature play.

Construction took place over six months with the much-loved community asset being reopened to the community on 19 December 2018 providing a facility which is inclusive and accessible for families and children of all abilities. As an additional benefit, the Diamond Creek Trail circles the playground, allowing locals to walk or ride to the playground from the townships of Eltham and Diamond Creek. Without funding from the GSF, the project would have been significantly reduced in scope and scale, not meeting community expectations or standards for accessibility. The funding enabled the project team to deliver elements identified as priorities by the community and enhance the overall accessibility. This included the design of wide and smooth pathways connecting the main playground structure to the broader play space, moving the Liberty Swing which survived the fire to be closer to the playground, accessible flying-fox seat and the construction of a cubbyhouse with extra wide doorways and space to turn a wheelchair inside.

A key success factor in the delivery of the new playground was the frequency of communications between Council and the community. Council provided the community with the opportunity to receive regular updates on project progress and upcoming events through the ‘Participate Nillumbik’ site. ‘Stay Informed’ and updates were also regularly communicated through social media. Since reopening the playground. Since reopening the playground Council have received overwhelming feedback from the community and from families who live outside of the Shire through their social media channels.

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Nillumbik Shire CEO Carl Cowie said:

I want to thank everyone who played a part in turning what I understand was a tough project, borne out of misadventure, into something that is truly inspiring and hopefully a lasting legacy for the Council. Staff worked so incredibly hard to give the community something spectacular.

In 2016-17, the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF) partnered with the City of Casey to deliver two important projects which focused on providing improved access to children’s and family support services within the municipality, one of Victoria’s fastest growing areas.

Casey’s population growth is largely driven by young families. In 2016, the City of Casey had a higher proportion of pre-schoolers and a lower proportion of persons at post retirement age than all of Greater Melbourne.

As a result, the level of demand for age-based services and facilities such as childcare, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services and early childhood education has increased rapidly.

Since 2016, Council run children’s services had been heavily oversubscribed, with 21% of babies attending MCH consultations in Narre Warren having to attend services outside of the local area. Council run kindergartens were also at capacity, with the overflow of families having to enroll into their second or third preference outside their immediate areas. Council has since adopted an integrated model of delivery for these facilities across the municipality.

In 2016-17 the GSF provided combined funding of $5 million to facilitate the expansion and upgrade of both New Autumn Place Family and Community Centre (Doveton) and the Strathaird Family and Community Centre (Narre Warren South), enabling the City of Casey to deliver these priority facilities earlier than expected for two growing communities.


Population growth in Narre Warren South and Hampton Park is largely driven by young families. Approximately 8% of the population in this area is between the years of 0-4.

Built in 2005, Strathaird Community and Family Centre included two kindergarten playrooms with outdoor yard, one MCH office and a small community room that is no longer fit for purpose.

The City of Casey received $1.4 million from the GSF to bring forward the development of an additional kindergarten room to increase capacity for four-year-old kindergarten places from 90 to 135,  an additional MCH consulting room, the redevelopment of the existing community space including the kitchen, a single point of entry with reception to improve functionality and an internet café to improve connectivity. Council provided $1.4 million towards the project, bringing the total project cost to approximately $2.8 million.

As well as meeting the demand for local services, the expansion of the centre has allowed the delivery of a wider range of MCH services, such as first-time parent groups, sleep settling classes and family support services and provided spaces for community groups to come together and participate in programmed activities.

The centre is conveniently located adjacent to a local primary school and recreation reserve making it the ideal location for social connectivity and enhancing health and wellbeing outcomes for the community and providing seamless service delivery.

Strathaird opening


Doveton was established in the mid-1950’s to provide low cost housing for families in and around Dandenong. Following the decline of the manufacturing sector and the closure of many businesses, Doveton has become one of the most disadvantaged areas in the City of Casey.

Doveton’s existing children’s service facilities were built in 1965 and included one kindergarten playroom with outdoor yard and MCH offices that no longer meet the needs of the growing population. In 2015, the buildings were nearing the end of their useful life and required significant investment if they were to be retained.

Throughout 2015-16, the City of Casey consulted the community on the development of the Autumn Place Master Plan. The plan set out a framework for the use, development and regeneration of the Autumn Place neighbourhood activity centre over the next 20 years. The new Family and Community Centre was identified as the most important project as part of the master plan.

In addition to $1.07 million from Council, a further $3.6 million was provided from the GSF, for a total project cost of $4.6 million that delivered an additional kindergarten room and a multi-purpose community space to allow the facility to be more flexible and to adapt as the area grows in line with projected population growth.

The New Autumn Place now aligns with Council’s preferred integrated model of service delivery by consolidating MCH and kindergarten into the one facility.

New Autumn Place

This model of delivery allows Council to:

  • Partner with local community service operators to deliver much needed programs and services
  • Provide space for hire at a low cost
  • Offer a variety of programs including; cultural groups, playgroups, homework groups, faith based groups, art programs, health and wellbeing programs, community activities including movie nights and community celebrations