Stereotype-busting skate park

For years, the old Woolstores building has been the congregation spot of choice for many skateboarders. Other popular spots are the city’s older skate parks in Beach Street, Montreal Street and North Fremantle’s Gordon Dedman Park.

Most of these areas seem to be stuck with the stereotype that they promote anti-social behaviour and crime, and the people who use them delinquents.

But recent research from the University of Western Australia’s Lisa Wood has found skate parks are more likely to promote good behaviour between its users.

She said despite this, skate parks were often ‘under threat’ from community opposition because of long-held fears that those who use it will bring anti-social behaviour with them.

‘Skate parks are in fact a powerful setting in which young people can learn the arts of co-operation, negotiation and compromise informally, in contrast to via the structured rules of organised sport,’ she said.

‘As playgrounds cater to younger children, groups of adolescents using parks and public places are often stereotyped as being ‘up to no good’.’

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said experiences at the skate park since it opened followed Professor Wood’s research.

‘I went down at lunch time Wednesday and the whole park was full of young people from six to 26 plus some parents too,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt a well designed skate park in the right location adds much to the community and actually runs counter to many of the negative misconceptions out there.’