Changing the accessible landscape through ‘Changing Places’

Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent welcomes the announcement that a new Changing Places toilet facility will be built in Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Victor Harbour and Mount Gambier, a direct result of Dignity Party’s successful advocacy.

Changing Places are high-level accessible public toilets, which include a hoist and adult size change table to provide freedom and dignity to people with disabilities and older people alike.

“The Dignity Party successfully lobbied the State Government for 1.7 million dollars of funding to finally allow South Australia to catch up to the other states by providing this vital infrastructure, as other states have done for years. The fact that we will have ten in South Australia is a thing to celebrate,” said Ms Vincent.

The first six Changing Places for SA were announced earlier this year, including four metropolitan locations, and two mobile toilets to be used at public events. Kelly Vincent says it became immediately obvious that Changing Places are also desperately needed in regional South Australia.

“Regional South Australia has a high population of disabled people and family carers, and yet it is not uncommon for people to have to travel frequently or even move permanently to Adelaide and surrounds for better access to support services. While the first six locations are needed and welcome, the Dignity Party has been working hard to ensure the regions get their fair share of this important investment,” Ms Vincent said.

Kelly Vincent has been surveying constituents as well as talking to local service providers and accessible tourism experts about the best regional locations for Changing Places, with the aim of building a ‘roadmap’ of facilities that will serve South Australians well for years to come.

In response to the announcement of the metropolitan locations for Changing Places, Adelaide local Chantel Bongiovanni said: “I now have hope that I can shop, study and perhaps one day be employed in the city because Changing Places will allow me to go to the toilet independently,” the social and economic possibilities are endless.

Local Whyalla campaigner and Dignity Party candidate for Giles, Cyanne Westerman said: “ A Changing Place in Whyalla means more to me than just being able to join in community activities at the beach without having to return home to use the toilet half way through. It means that society is finally recognising that using the toilet is a normal part of life for everyone, not just those that are able bodied. It’s great to finally see a move to a more inclusive environment and culture. It’s been a slow process, but this is big step in the right direction.”

“Given that many people with access needs travel to and from the regions for everything from medical and therapy appointments, to holidays, family reunions, and sporting events, it makes sense to build Changing Places in locations close to other relevant supports and infrastructure.

“With the increasing rollout of things like access mats to allow easy access to our State’s beautiful waterfronts, as one example, it is logical to locate Changing Places in spots like beaches to allow for easy showering and changing,” she said.

“Today’s announcement is welcome, and will benefit the people of the Eyre Peninsula, the Fleurieu and the South-East greatly, however, this must be only the beginning of comprehensive, ongoing action to future-proof South Australia and close the gap, morally and geographically speaking,” said Kelly Vincent.