By Hayley Mais
A Perth shopping centre has opened the doors of its first Changing Place, a special facility for people with disabilities who can’t access or use universal toilets.
More than 200,000 Australians need help with bathroom and personal hygiene needs.
This latest Change Place has been unveiled at Westfield Carousel.
The move has been welcomed by WA’s Ability Centre, a not-for-profit disability service provider.
“The introduction of more Changing Places in Western Australia is really positive, as it gives people living with disability a lot more options and the freedom to participate in their local community,” said Gareth Goodway, the Ability Centre’s community inclusion coordinator.
“I’m really looking forward to more opening up, as they help us build a more inclusive society.”
Each Change Place is customisable, fitted with a change table, a toilet with adjustable hand rails, hoist facilities and a sink.
Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson attended the opening of WA’s 26th Change Place.
“Every Changing Place facility that opens helps to make the community more inclusive for people with disability, and I commend everyone involved in delivering this facility as part of a growing network around the State,” he said.
Change Places can be accessed with a special master key distributed by the Master Locksmiths Association.
People can apply for a key online, via email, or fax. They provide the holder with 24 hour access to public facilities including Change Places and Liberty Swings.
Westfield staff say many people don’t know about Change Places or the master key access.
One staff member explained she has a friend whose children have autism and going to the bathroom can be an overwhelming experience.
“She had no idea about the change room so now she has applied for the key because the noise from the hand dryers and all the people can make it so [the children] won’t go into a normal toilet,” they said.
To increase awareness of the Change Place, more information and application forms for the keys at the centre’s Concierge desks.
The state government has committed $2 million to grow the network of Changing Places. Westfield Carousel funded its own as part of the centre’s redevelopment and to align itself with the State Disability Plan.