Last October Australia won nine global Green Flag Awards which included Roma Street Parkland and South Bank Parklands. In November 2020, Roma Street Parkland was included in the International Top Ten voted parks as part of the People's Choice 2020, the only Australian park to make the list.

With over 2,000 entries from fifteen countries including New Zealand, USA, Belgium, UK, Republic of Ireland and Finland, Australia won nine awards which included Roma Street Parkland and South Bank Parklands.

The Green Flag Award is the internationally recognised standard for well-managed parks and green spaces.

City Parklands Services manages Roma Street Parkland and South Bank Parklands on behalf of Brisbane City Council through a parkland management agreement with the Queensland Government. Brisbane City Council established City Parklands as a commercial entity to ensure focused delivered of the obligations of the management agreement, one of which is the maintenance of a 'sustainability certification' by an independent party.

Both Roma Street Parkland and South Bank parklands has participated in the Green Flag Award assessment process since 2014, receiving the Award each subsequent year.

The Green Flag Award was chosen by City Parklands as the mechanism to achieve the sustainability certification due to the holistic nature of the assessment process, which encompass a welcoming place, healthy, safe and secure, well maintained and clean, environmental management, biodiversity, landscape and heritage, community involvement, marketing and communication, and implementation of a management plan.

The assessment process, either onsite or through the mystery shopper exercise has proved to be invaluable for providing a foundation for continual improvement, business planning, and capital funding applications. Having an external expert assess the operations of the parkland enables the parkland to both share out best practices and learn from others.

The value and role that parks play in everyone lives have arguably become more valued over the past 12 months, as we all work through the impacts of the global pandemic. Whilst visitor numbers were hard hit in the first couple of months of early lockdown, especially at South Bank where international and interstate visitors who usually enjoy the City's waterfront parkland became non-existent. The lockdowns however provided an opportunity for Brisbane residents to 'rediscover' their local green spaces, with Roma Street Parkland experiencing a year-on-year increase in visitor number during May and June.

As life returns to the 'new norm', and visitors return to not quite pre-COVID-19 numbers, the focus for City Parklands will be to harness this renewed local community engagement through a suite of events meeting local audience demand, and for those who are still facing ongoing travel restrictions.

Shaun Walsh, the outgoing CEO of City Parkland Services has been a strong advocate for Roma Street Parkland and South Bank Parklands participation in the Green Flag Award.

"The Green Flag Award supports the principle that quality parks are so much more than just a beautiful space. Receiving the Green Flag Award demonstrates that a park has met a standard that covers the full spectrum of parkland management and curation including visitor experience, horticultural and asset management practices and sustainability.

"I am extremely proud that Roma Street Parkland and South Bank Parklands has maintained this internationally recognised accreditation for a seventh consecutive year. Having a standard that we can work towards, and continually improve upon is extremely valuable to our company, the parklands and our visitors. It provides a recognised quality marque for visitors to all parks across the world and also recognises the dedication of our staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the standard."

Carl McClean, International Development Manager for the Green Flag Award said

"City Parklands Services has embraced the Green Flag Award program in Brisbane for seven straight years. Their approach is highly commendable - whilst gaining national recognition and showcasing the high standards the park is kept to, they also use the judges annual feedback reports strategically in developing and improving their management, maintenance and visitor experience.

"It was fantastic to see Roma Street Parkland make it in to the top ten of our International People's Choice competition - voted on by thousands of members of the public every year."

South Bank is Brisbane's premier lifestyle and cultural destination. Located on the southern banks of the Brisbane River, its 17 hectares of lush parklands, popular eateries, stunning river views and hundreds of events all year round. Built on the former site of Expo '88, the parkland was designed to be the 'People's Park' and over its 28-year history, has transformed into a green space with a number of distinct areas and purposes attracting in the region of 13million visitors per year.

Encompassing the area that was once Brisbane's main rail and goods yard, a flower and produce market and the historic Albert Park, Roma Street Parkland celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. The 16ha parkland provides its 2million visitors with an urban subtropical experience with a mixture of large open spaces, lush subtropical planting and historic landscapes creating a series of 'garden rooms'. It is this horticultural experience that distinguishes Roma Street Parkland from other parks and gardens in the city and indeed the world, showcasing unique subtropical vegetation in comparative displays.

Parks and Leisure Australia is proud to congratulate all Australian award winners in the global Green Flags Awards.

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