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“Our backyards are disappearing”
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“Our backyards are disappearing”

Pak Wayne YiuBackyards are falling out of fashion in Australia’s suburban landscape, says Pak Yiu, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent in Brisbane, Australia, who argues the trend has disturbing implications.

The backyard has always been part of the Australian lifestyle. It has been a secure area for children to play and a place for Australians to enjoy a good old barbecue.

However, our backyards now face the possibility of disappearing.

Until the twilight of the ‘80s, almost every suburban Australian house had a large backyard. By the end of the next decade, satellite images showed that no new house built anywhere had a backyard of significant size.

Professor Tony Hall of the Urban Research Program at Griffith University in Brisbane has been studying the loss of backyards in Australia.

His studies show the disappearing backyard is not a case of smaller lots being created, but of larger-sized houses being built on suburban lots.

At the same time, there has been a shift in working patterns for Australians.

“What I found out from my research is that something else happens at the same time. Australia goes from a low working-hours country to the highest in the world. It goes from [having the] smallest houses in the world to the largest in the world. And this happens both at the same time. In my view they are connected.”

Professor Hall views the backyard transformation as a national problem, and cites a lack of planning policies for backyards as one of the reasons behind the dramatic change.

The backyard plays an important role in people’s lives. Without a backyard, children will lose the ability to play in a secure area while getting in touch with nature.

Dr. Wendy Sarkissian, a social planner, is of the view that children without backyards risk losing a connection with nature. She says studies have shown that children who grow up far from nature care less about the environment.

“It’s important [to have a backyard] if we want our future generations to care for the environment…People who don’t have that experience with nature, you’re not likely to love something you don’t know.”

But what is the cause of this disturbing trend?

Professor  Hall says an increase in indoor lifestyle is a contributing factor to the smaller backyards. As people are transported by car everywhere, spending less time at home and more at work, the backyard becomes less significant.

What Australia needs now is an important debate about what is going on, he says. Lifestyles are changing without being discussed or examined.

Even as the Australian lifestyle changes out of all recognition, no one seems to be talking about it.

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About Me

“I’m a student based in Brisbane, Australia, studying Journalism and Arts majoring in Spanish and Psychology. I’m a photo enthusiast and an adventurer consumed by wanderlust. My dream is to be able to travel around the world to capture different cultures and re-tell their stories through photos.

“I’m also a radio announcer on a news and current affair show called Brisbane Line at 4zzz. I enjoy playing and listening to independent local bands from all over the country as well as unearthing hidden talent around the world. I hope one day I’ll to be a journalist and publish current issues that the world will face.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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Photo credit: nicolas.boullosa via photopin cc

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