Transcript: Backstage Pass wins national award


Kerry Griffith, Moreton Bay Regional Council: Backstage Pass is all about opening the doors to the library, after hours, to families with special needs so that we can create a low-sensory environment and we can offer access to resources and activities that the parents and children might not be able to access.

So Backstage Pass is about equalising, actually providing these opportunities to everybody.

As part of the sensory environment we have lowered lighting, we have reduced sound, the number of participants are capped, we have supporting staff.

We actually monitor our exits, so everybody’s safe, and the activities might include things like our sensory storytimes. We have a focus on digital literacy as well so we work with 3D augmented reality.

Because our holiday programs are quite popular, families with special needs were contacting us and telling us they were experiencing difficulty coming into the library during peak times.

So we looked at options and we partnered with Leah and Chanelle with Sensory Souls and we decided that opening out of hours was the best way to actually control the environment.

So once we were able to take that important step, everything just fell together. We were able to think of the activities that we offer during the school holidays. What’s easy to duplicate at another time.

It’s very important for Council and for libraries as well to have equal access to all opportunities. So it’s not enough to just put something on and say everyone is welcome, you actually have to look at how you set it up and the environment that it’s in.

And while the kids are coming in and having a lot of fun, behind all of that is the development of literacy skills, helping with fine motor skills, and by providing access to these resources and activities, families are becoming better skilled and they’re being able to actively be part of building a better community and adding their value to that community.

What we actually hope is from the Backstage Pass experience some families, not all, but when they feel ready, might like to visit us during opening hours and experience the full library experience and see what’s on offer.

It won’t be the same across the board, but it will help with integration and being able to explore what everyone else gets in a much more easily and accessible way.