International Parks and Leisure Congress


14 - 17 October, 2018, MCG, Melbourne Australia

Co-hosted by World Urban Parks and Parks and Leisure Australia, FUTURE of SPACES and PLACES in CITIES aims to address the impact urban growth and density will have on our parks, leisure and sport globally and how we as an industry can respond to ensure our open spaces are protected and our lifestyles enhanced.

Access to high-quality public open space is a key ingredient of healthy, liveable cities and towns. This has long been recognised in government planning policy, and academic research showing that accessible green spaces lead to better health outcomes. 

Our cities are growing rapidly. We are seeing increasing populations, greater housing density, rising temperatures, growing rates of obesity, diabetes, stress and depression, and declining native biodiversity.

The congress will explore how government and industry are addressing growth and density into the future.  What are the opportunities and priorities? Join us in Melbourne to find out.

Through collaboration we have developed a unique program not to be missed. An array of exceptional international and domestic experts in all aspects of parks, sport and leisure have been engaged to provide forward thinking, provocative ideas, recent innovations and practical considerations.


Melbourne has been ranked as the world’s most liveable city for seven consecutive years (according to the Economist Intelligence Unit) and as the Melbourne Lord Mayor has said - the title is something that all Melbournians should be proud of: “We do not take this title for granted and are constantly planning and implementing policies that will continue to improve our quality of life.”

Public open space can define a city, as Central Park defines New York, Melbourne’s extensive open space creates the outdoor liveability of the city and is an important component of that ranking.

 THE ’G’

The Congress is to be staged at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but the MCG (or the ’G’ as it is locally known) is more than just a sports venue. Located in Yarra Park, only about a 10 minute walk from the heart of the city, it is steeped in a rich history: and is described as the beating heart of this fantastic city.

 It is fitting that the city will be hosting this special event bringing together leading professionals from across Australia and the world to share best practice, innovation and discuss trends as increasingly more people live in urban environments. The contribution that the many forms of public open space make to health and well-being is increasingly being recognised as vital part of everyday (especially urban) life.

 Delegates will come from all levels of government, associated service and product providers together with related consulting fields and research, all of whom are facing new industry challenges whilst trying to ‘deliver more for less’. They are keen to share and be exposed to new innovations and industry best practices to assist with the development, delivery and management of services and infrastructure into the future. With its international profile this event will not only draw participants from around the world but in consequence attract an even larger domestic attendance.

 The congress will provide exclusive access to many inspirational business thinkers and industry leaders from across the parks and leisure sector. On behalf of Parks & Leisure Australia and World Urban Parks we invite you to attend this year’s International Parks and Leisure Congress.

John Senior PLA and Neil McCarthy, WUP



Parks and Leisure Australia is the peak industry association for professionals working in the Parks and Leisure sector in Australia, representing over 2500 members. Through a broad range of services we support members to provide opportunities that strengthen communities through good use of leisure time for the social, environmental, economic and physical wellbeing of all Australians. we are 'THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE PLACES'.

Services include:

·       Training and continuing professional development

·       Providing networking opportunities and information sharing for members

·       Developing a strong industry profile and promoting the benefits of the sector

·       Identifying and promoting products and services that enhance and develop the sector

·       Forging strong alliances and partnerships with organisations with similar agendas and aims

·       Policy development and best practice research

·       Advocating on behalf of the sector



World Urban Parks champions urban park outcomes for city liveability, place-making, conservation and access, and provides strong membership services by connecting, leveraging and supporting diverse memberships across the international urban parks, open space and recreation community and allied sectors. We are a community wanting to make a better world and who are ready to help each other.

Member benefits: 

  • Advocacy: A global voice supporting the value and benefits of parks and the industry through science and unity
  • Best Practice: World-class communities, organisations, and professionals recognized for high standards and efficiencies through congresses, benchmarking, awards and certification
  • Collaboration: Resolving issues and increasing knowledge and capacity through diverse networks of colleagues and partnerships.

Bi-monthly themes such as: Climate Change, Healthy Parks Healthy People, Equity and Democracy, Older Adults, Access – every child with a park within a short walk, and Economic Development will raise the focus of key issues for urban parks.