Parliament: Interesting Speeches

World Toilet Day

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Saturday 19 November is World Toilet Day. The United Nations established World Toilet Day to highlight that access to improved sanitation is fundamental to ensuring the dignity, safety and equality of everyone in our communities. Changing Places are public toilets with full-size, height-adjustable change tables suitable for adults, and lifting hoists to meet the basic daily toileting needs of a wider range of people. It gives space for a person with a disability to be assisted by one or two people, and also has a nonslip floor.

The campaign for Changing Places is well underway in other parts of Australia. Victoria already has six Changing Places facilities up and running, and is now investing more than $1.5 million to fund the construction of 15 new Changing Places. South Australia has toilet facilities with features of Changing Places, including at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre and Elizabeth Shopping Centre. These have been well received by the people who need to use them.

We need more fully accessible facilities because, without them, people who require larger change tables and a hoist for toileting are likely to have to lie on the floor of either a regular or accessible toilet to get changed. The participation, dignity and safety of people with disabilities, health conditions and ageing people are enabled by Changing Places.

Naturally, if you have to change a continence pad on a toilet floor—the floor of a public toilet—you will avoid having to do so. This means avoiding going out or severely limiting your outings, resulting in social isolation. Without decent facilities, many people stay in soiled clothing, which is, of course, embarrassing, unnecessary and can lead to infection. It is clear that we must ensure that everyone in our community is comfortable in going out and about. This is what inclusion looks like and this is what diversity looks like.

I have had, on behalf of Dignity for Disability, positive discussions with the Local Government Association, as well as the City of Adelaide and the City of Charles Sturt on this topic. The Adelaide City Council, in particular, I know is working with me very hard to get Changing Places into the city. Establishing more Changing Places will improve our reputation as an accessible tourism destination for everyone, including people with disabilities, families and friends. People with disabilities already spend $8 billion every year on Australian tourism. It is estimated that an additional $3.5 billion to $4 billion could be attracted simply by improving our toileting facilities, including Changing Places.

Given that about four million Australians aged 15 and over experience urinary incontinence and that we know this number will only increase as our community gets older—and it will; it already is getting older—Changing Places is a hugely meaningful and necessary investment in making sure that all people, everyone in our community, can continue to enjoy life in our beautiful state and community and continue contributing to our economy, now and far into the future. It is a pleasure to continue working on this vital project.