Guest blog: Play as an antidote to social isolation and loneliness.

Oct 30, 2023 | Blog, Guest Blog

Do you remember as a child neighbourhood street play?

An international movement, now here in Australia, is revitalising street play and reconnecting socially isolated communities.

A Play Street is a simple concept, it is a temporary street closure on a quiet residential street, to enable neighbours of all ages to connect and play together. These are small gatherings for neighbours, ideally coordinated by residents themselves, in partnership with their Local Government. The session normally lasts 2-3 hours and is an opportunity to reimagine our streets as places for neighbours to come together and play, and to ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of our community.

The Australian peak body, Play Australia, is championing the 1000 Play Streets movement.  Since launching the movement in 2021, 22 Local Government Partners nationally have supported 150 Play Streets, involving 7500 neighbours, 230 volunteer Play Streets hosts and 80 local community partners.

With funding provided by the Office for Recreation Sport and Racing in South Australia and the Australian Sports Commission, Play Australia has the goal of reaching 1000 Play Streets by 2025.

La Trobe University’s pilot evaluation findings of the 1000 Play Streets scheme are encouraging with:

  • 90% of adults surveyed reporting feeling more confident to talk to their neighbours in future
  • 100% of surveyed participants with children, reporting they are now more likely to support their child/ren to play outside with other neighbours more regularly.
  • 84% surveyed felt a strong sense of connection with the people they spent time with on the street.
  • 33% of surveyed participants reported mental health benefits; and
  • 11% reported improved general confidence.

Play Australia has created a free toolkit, full of planning advice on how to support temporary street closures for community Play Streets. To find out more about establishing a play street in your local area download a tool kit and see how it all works, then contact your local Government and let them know you want a Play Street in your neighbourhood!

What are residents saying?

“For me it definitely helped everybody in the community, it wasn’t just something that benefited the children, it benefitted the whole family and also individuals without children …I felt connected to the whole community.”

“We found a real sense of community for the children that hadn’t been established yet.  The children feel confident and happy when they see each other now, they are no longer strangers to each other”

Play Australia welcomes Local Governments and community partners to join the 1000 Play Streets movement today and download the free toolkit at:

Or contact them and have a chat

Play Australia established in 1914 and has a mission to build a healthier communities through play. The organisaiton is a not for profit national peak with has an active cross sectoral membership base of organisations and people who share their mission. Play Australia runs a range of projects that support and promote play as essential for children’s development and leverage the power of play as a catalyst for building healthy and engaged communities.