The Venny is a free communal backyard and safe space for children aged 5 to 16 located in JJ Holland Park, Kensington. The Venny has been in the park for over 40 years and has a rich history within the Kensington Community. It is a space where kids can engage in risk-taking play, creativity and connectedness with other young people. The Venny also works with schools, agencies, families and more to facilitate intercultural sharing, food services, therapeutic support, and social cohesion in the local area.
The Venny is one of 5 staffed, adventure playgrounds in Australia modelled on the original concept from Denmark. Danish landscape architect Carl Theodor Sørensen made the observation that children preferred to play everywhere except the playgrounds that he designed and built. He imagined “a junkyard playground in which children could create and shape, dream and imagine a reality”. In 1942, the first adventure playground ‘Emdrup’ opened in Copenhagen. This is the history we are connected to at The Venny.
The Venny is free for the community to access.
You are free to choose what you do in the space.
You are free to come and go as you like.
Everything we do at The Venny is linked with at least one of the following:
Hands of support
We support children and families. We help fill gaps in systems when they appear. We connect with community, schools, support agencies, families to provide a wrap-around support network. This can include practical assistance such as food, education supplies, uniforms, clothes and support to access cultural experiences like music, dance and sport.
Heart of play work
Play work is at the heart of what we do. We have been providing risk-taking play opportunities to children and young people for over 40 years. Our practice is based on Playwork principles and has been developed over the past 40 years. Our staff are play workers and we use play is our daily practice.
Home for children
We are the backyard of public housing. We provide the rhythms and rituals of a home. We are a place to gather and witness each other’s lives. We are a green space with animals and provide children with the opportunity to play, connect and learn. Our playground has been build with and by the community. Play sessions in Kensington are free through the support from The City of Melbourne and all are welcome.
At the Venny, kids can engage in unstructured play sessions after school, on Saturdays and during school holidays. The Venny also runs regular evening programs. See the programs page for our current programs.
The Venny is made possible thanks to the ongoing support of our major partner The City of Melbourne and many other funding partners. We also rely on private donations from the community. Please see our partners page for more details, or make a direct donation here.
Acknowledgement of Country, written by the kids of The Venny
We are on the traditional land of the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Eastern Kulan Nation, the traditional custodians of The Venny land. We pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging, and any community elders who are with us today.
We get to play and tell stories on this land. We, The Venny kids, and the community, want to pay our respects to all Aboriginal children. This is your land that we share together, and we acknowledge your continuing relationship to this land and its waterways. We are learning to care for this land, care for its people, and care for ourselves.