The parks and leisure community mourned the passing of Peter Fitchett on 5 February 2023, a true leader and champion of the parks and leisure profession. With over thirty years of experience in the industry, Peter was a passionate advocate for the benefits of parks and leisure in our communities.
Peter had a long and fulfilling career in local government, spanning 34 years after initially commencing in 1985 at the City of Camberwell. It was at Camberwell that Peter developed a passion for quality parks, recreation, and community facilities. He led the planning of the Ashburton Aquatic and Recreation Centre and was involved in the development of Balwyn, Ashburton and Camberwell Community Centres. His team initiated the Anniversary Trail and the various paths that radiate from it, creating an extensive off-road trails network. He also ran an innovative outreach program into supported accommodation homes, the first of its type in Victoria.
Early in his local government career, Peter completed his Master of Arts in Public Policy at the University of Melbourne and initiated the establishment of the peak industry body Parks and Leisure Australia. For this latter work, he was awarded the industry’s highest acknowledgement, the Frank Stewart Award, in 1998.
Peter then moved on to Frankston, where he led the reshaping and rebranding of Frankston through large-scale urban development initiatives. This work led to his being awarded the Planning Minister’s inaugural award for Planning excellence for “Frankston – TAFE to Bay”. This work saw the Frankston Waterfront created, significant investment into Monash University, Frankston Private Hospital and the Frankston CBD. Peter became a Director of Planning and Infrastructure at Frankston in 1998.
Peter was a lecturer at both Victoria University and University of Hong Kong. His work during this time encompassed post-graduate lecturing and supervising masters level students in the specialties of strategic planning and policy development.
In 2006, Peter arrived at Casey as Director of Planning and Development. He immediately set about creating a more aspirational culture for the City as it developed. Across housing estates, parks, recreation, and community facilities, he drove an increase in quality, which attracted the interest of other growth area municipalities and saw Casey become a desirable place to live. When the emergency was declared at the Brookland Greens Estate, he was selected to lead the Council’s response, which he did for the first eight months. It was a difficult period with the Council subjected to a $100m class action claim, which it ultimately settled for around $1m. It also secured $42m from the State Government to rehabilitate the site.
He oversaw the transformation of Casey Fields from five playing surfaces into a true regional parkland. He set up partnerships with Melbourne Football Club and the Melbourne Stars and was passionate about building pride in the Casey brand. Casey Stadium, the Shed, Casey Fields Number 2, Autumn Place, the St John of God Hospital, and an extensive array of community infrastructure have all been part of Peter’s legacy at Casey. He built a strong, talented, and loyal team and was known for his authentic approach to leadership.
Peter will always be remembered as a leading light in the parks and leisure profession, and his legacy will continue to inspire us all.