Australia’s Approach to Nature Play

Outdoor Play

Nature Play QLD of Queensland, Australia, has a vision of  unstructured outdoor play becoming a normal part of every child’s life, so that they can develop into resilient, healthy and creative members of the community.  That vision embodies a lot of research on the topic that applies in many countries and seems to be using the same principles outlined in the Nature Play publication from the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association that I discussed in an earlier post.  Nature Play QLD is fully funded by the Queensland Government, through the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing.

Nature Play QLD’s Approach

Their initial approach toward their vision includes the following seven steps:

  1. Increase awareness of the benefits of nature play
  2. Increase opportunities for families to participate in nature play
  3. Create and promote resources that make participation easy
  4. Establish a communications network among their partners and families
  5. Advocate for nature play with the government and other groups that work with children
  6. Develop their organizational capacity
  7. Become financially independent of the government within three years.

They already have a great start with their video:


Passport to an Amazing Childhood

As mentioned in the video they have a passport system.  The passport lists many outdoor activities that kids can check off as they complete them.  It includes things like climbing a tree, skipping rocks on the water and going camping.  It is generally aimed at kids ages 3 to 12.  There are currently around 100,000 passport holders.

License to Play (Outdoors)

Supporting the passport idea is their License to Play (Outdoors) publication that helps parents help their kids by teaching parents how to work with their kids:Climb a Tree

  • to develop outdoor play skills
  • to build independence, risk management and self-regulation
  • to use the passport and it’s online system to provide an extrinsic reward with a little structure
  • to love outdoor play

Little Adventure Days

Since parents and caregivers seem to want some help with all this, the organization offers “Little Adventure Days” where staff goes to daycare providers locations and help facilitate activities included in the passport system.  They do charge for this service to help fund the group’s activities.


In addition to these flagship programs,  the organization offers family nature clubs, a symposium, resources (for families, researchers and groups), an email newsletter, a blog and even a photography contest.  All of this is explained and provided through their website:  If you happen to live in Queensland, you’ve probably heard of this organization, but if not, check it out and get involved.  For others,  it provides a great model for how to aid and abet children in getting outdoors to play.  It’s not just a concept with Nature Play QLD, they do it.

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