Protect our kids
By SAM BENGERsamb@gladstoneobserver.com.au
JANINE Firth is hot around the collar ? and so are her two young children.
She wants to know why her children and others are forced to use playground equipment at parks around Tannum Sands and Boyne Island which are not protected by permanent shade structures.
"Central Queensland is one of the worst affected areas by skin cancer and melanoma, and yet our kids are playing without any shade covering them,'' she said.
But the problem appears to be the same throughout the Gladstone region. Gladstone doctor Stephen Rigby told The Observer in December that skin cancer rates in the region had reached "epidemic proportions''.
Dr Rigby said he believed skin cancer was more common in Central Queensland than further south.
Mrs Firth said she frequented Tannum Sands' Millennium Esplanade park and playground equipment, but was often forced to leave mid-morning because it was too hot for her two children.
"I have to leave by 9.30 or 10am at the latest because it's just too hot ? the play equipment gets so hot it burns my hand when I test it, it's far too hot to put a young child on,'' she said.
Mrs Firth said while Calliope Shire Council had spent "millions on Canoe Point'' she had been told that placing permanent shade structures were "not a priority''.
Calliope Shire Councillor Todd Comrie said the issue had not been raised at council and as a parent of a two-year-old son, he did not see permanent shade structures as necessary for parks in the shire.
"My issue is that shaded areas are permanent and except for a limited time during summer when it's particularly hot, it's not needed,'' he said.
Cr Comrie said that council budgets were limit- ed, and other infrastructure needed in the area had to be taken into consideration.
"If the money was available and the choice of shading play equipment or having more bikeways and walkways was on offer, then my priority would be creating more paths,'' he said.
He said ratepayers often wanted "the best of both worlds'' but that the council had to prioritise which projects to fund.
Cr Comrie said he would like to see shaded structures at parks in the future, but at this point other issues were higher on the agenda.
He encouraged anyone in the shire who wished to raise this issue or others, to contact the council.