Moomba 2021 was affectionately known as the ‘Whiplash Event’ – it was on, it was off, and then it was on again!
The traditional parade and water-skiing competition were axed, and the two carnival grounds became one single, fenced, COVID-safe site. Architecture & Access was asked to consult on disability access for the festival and provide guidance for how Moomba could be more inclusive for children and adults on the Autism Spectrum.
A network of temporary accessible matting was laid out across the grassed areas to link the entrances, exits and main features of the carnival – which were used by everyone when the rain came down. Designated accessible viewing areas were put in place, and Traveller’s Aid offered free wheelchairs for use by patrons, as well as a Charging Station for people with disability to charge their electric wheelchair or scooter.
The Playground, the carnival site that was cut after Melbourne’s five-day lock down, became three activation sites across Docklands during the April school holidays. The creative materials and performers from the original Moomba Floats were re-imagined as immersive places for children of all abilities to engage and enjoy. Fantastical gardens, adventure play spaces and sensory activities were available.
A Social Story was developed by A&A to support children with disability and their families to have the best experience. Social Stories support children with disability by preparing them for what they will see, hear and do at an event.
A Quite Zone was also installed to give children a safe place to be calm if they became anxious or overwhelmed. All playground sites provided a Quiet Hour, during which music and announcements were turned down, so children who are sensitive to too much noise also enjoyed the fun.
Architecture & Access provided dynamic advice during the evolution of both Moomba Festival and The Playground Activations and are part of an ongoing conversation with City of Melbourne as they look to make all future events as accessible and inclusive as possible!