For thousands of young and adult Australians, even disabled toilets are near unusable, offering only the dirty floor as a changing facility; now, advocacy groups have had a win.
There is not much dignity to be found on a cold, wet toilet floor.
This is where the parents of people with disabilities often have to kneel when trying to change their child. Accessible toilets in Victoria rarely have an adult change table or enough space for two carers to help with heavy lifting.
The only alternative for the person with a moderate or severe disability is to sit for hours in soiled clothing, an unpleasant and unhealthy experience that often leads to urinary tract infections.
“When we go out we have to plan our day around the most accessible toilets,” says Bernard McCarthy, father to 28-year-old Brendan, who uses a wheelchair.
Now a change is under way. Victoria will get six new cutting-edge accessible bathrooms in popular public places; the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the zoo, the revamped Rod Laver Arena and in three other locations to be chosen by a poll of people who will use them.
There will also be a new accessible mobile bathroom (the delightfully named Marveloo) that can be hired for events. The cost for all of the new bathrooms will be $750,000.
The bathrooms will come with a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench, a tracking hoist system, space for a person with a disability and two carers, as well as a non-slip floor and a safe and clean environment.
The push for these super bathrooms is based on a hugely successful UK campaign called Changing Places, which has seen more than 600 accessible bathrooms established. There is now an Australian campaign of the same name.
The Association for Children with a Disability, which will oversee the scheme, says the new bathrooms will stop people with disabilities becoming isolated at home, which is a common problem.
Mr McCarthy said he and his Richmond-mad son visited the MCG almost weekly and always had to arrive early so that they had time to visit the bathroom.
“People just don’t understand. They put a disability sign on the door of a larger room but it’s useless. Luckily the world is slowly changing.”
Minister for Disability Mary Wooldridge said the new accessible loos build on the pioneering work at Maroondah City Council, which was installing five accessible bathrooms for its residents.
“Most of us don’t have to think twice about a day out but for many Victorians it’s a horror scenario because of a trip to the toilet,” Ms Wooldridge said.read the full story... (off-site)Media Release: Government announcement for Changing Places funding (off-site)