Specialist centres 07 February 2024

Barwon Women's and Children's: Community survey report

In November 2023 we ran a community survey to help inform key areas of the new and expanded women's and children's facilities in Geelong. Read the summary report here.

Purpose of the report

The Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA), in partnership with Barwon Health, is committed to providing the local community with meaningful opportunities to provide input into this significant project and has undertaken a comprehensive consultation process throughout the design of the Barwon Women’s and Children’s.

An online community survey on the Engage Victoria website was one of several opportunities for the local community to share the ideas and priorities of Geelong and surrounds and to help shape the new Barwon Women’s and Children’s.

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of what we heard through the community survey and share community ideas and priorities that will be considered in the design for the new Barwon Women’s and Children’s.

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About the project

The Victorian Government has committed more than $500 million to deliver new and expanded women’s and children’s facilities in Geelong.

The new Barwon Women’s and Children’s will provide world-class women’s health (including maternity) and paediatric services and deliver additional capacity to ensure families in Geelong and surrounding communities can continue to access the very best care, close to home.

Managed by Barwon Health, the new Barwon Women’s and Children’s will be built within the University Hospital Geelong precinct. It will provide:

  • more maternity inpatient beds
  • more paediatric multi-day/same day inpatient beds
  • more special care nursery cots
  • more birthing suites
  • more operating theatres
  • expanded paediatric and maternity specialist (outpatient) facilities.

The community’s influence

The survey has sought and considered input on key areas of the design of the Barwon Women’s and Children’s including patient and family experience, indoor and outdoor spaces, accessibility and wayfinding.

The input captured in this report will be shared with the project team with the opportunity for feedback to be reflected in the final design of the Barwon Women’s and Children’s.

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How we engaged

The VHBA led a community survey on the Engage Victoria portal from 24 October to 24 November 2023, to seek community input on what they would like to see in key areas of the new Barwon Women’s and Children’s.

The survey was published online via Engage Victoria and was promoted across the VHBA and Barwon Health social media channels, and shared with community and stakeholder groups via the Community Consultative Committee.

There were 422 survey submissions received.

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What we heard

Participants were asked about their ideas and priorities around the themes of accessibility, welcoming space, family friendly spaces, artwork and spaces.


Respondents indicated a preference for:

  • access to bike parking in obvious and safe areas
  • close by, well-lit, free carparking
  • proximity to public transport
  • transportation options to and from appointments
  • taxi rank, drop off pick up zone close to the entrance.

Welcoming space

Respondents indicated a preference for:

  • clear wayfinding signage in multiple languages
  • ample food and drink options
  • reception/check-in to provide wayfinding information
  • LGBTQIA+ representation and inclusive signage
  • consideration of different cultural needs such as prayer rooms
  • access to all gender bathrooms.

Family friendly spaces

Respondents indicated a preference for:

  • quiet and private spaces in waiting areas
  • fun, interactive play areas for children including fish tanks
  • breastfeeding areas with comfortable chairs and spaces to clean and store pumping equipment
  • sensory spaces for neurodiverse children
  • pet-friendly areas for service animals and for family pets to be able to visit
  • access to power points and charging stations.


Respondents indicated a preference for:

  • works created by locals or First Nations artists
  • areas for showcasing children's/inpatients art on rotation
  • imagery/art representative of Geelong community and local scenery
  • interactive art that children can contribute to.


Respondents indicated a preference for:

  • lush, calming, green plants
  • shade for hot days and weather protection from rain
  • soothing water features.

Feedback summary

  • People want clear wayfinding signage
    • 90 per cent of respondents said this was the highest priority.
  • People want outdoor areas that help create a positive healthcare experience
    • 89 per cent said accessible outdoor/terrace spaces with trees and plants were important
    • 89 per cent mentioned seating and benches
    • 83 per cent suggested children's play areas
    • 78 per cent proposed weather protected outdoor spaces.
  • People want to feel welcome, and have quiet waiting spaces
    • 73 per cent said quiet and private waiting areas were most important
    • 85 per cent said having food and drink options would make them feel welcome and supported.

Feeling welcome

'Carparking, close, well-lit, with security cameras and/or security personnel frequenting the area. Alternatively, access to a shuttle bus for staff and patients to long term parking.'

'Pregnancy is one of the greatest risk situations for women. Being aware and respectful of Queer communities, not all parents are heterosexual and images need to be inclusive and diverse.'

'Use different themes/colour palettes to differentiate different areas [to improve wayfinding].'

Indoor waiting areas and outdoor areas

'It would be lovely to see something at Barwon Health that creates a warm and welcoming space for children rather than something that is too clinical and can become easily overwhelming and frightening for them.'

'There needs to be facilities for women to breastfeed or express milk, in comfort and with dignity, designed into this facility.'

'Make the [outdoor] areas as quiet, relaxing and private as possible. Calming colours, water features.'

'High safety rails/fences. No surfaces that could be climbed on due to risk of falling/jumping. Soft flooring. Space for parents to stretch and breathe.'

Wayfinding and art

'Use different themes/colour palettes to differentiate different areas [for wayfinding].'

'Someone to ask that can access interpreters including Auslan.'

'Displays from current inpatients that choose to contribute. Artworks could be rotated monthly.'

'A water fountain or water feature would be calming in the outdoor space.'

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Next steps

Input from the community obtained via the survey has provided the Barwon Women’s and Children’s project team with:

  • a clearer understanding of the priorities for Geelong and surrounding communities
  • ideas and a vision for key spaces and areas in new Barwon Women’s and Children’s
  • the issues and concerns that matter to seeking safe and accessible healthcare in Geelong and surrounding communities.

The project is currently in the design phase, and the ideas and priorities captured in the survey – together with the input gathered through other consultation forums – will be considered when developing the final design of the new Barwon Women’s and Children’s.

Find out more

Illustration of community members engaging with a VHBA project

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