Kelly Vincent – 891ABC Interview on United Nations World Toilet Day

On the 19th November, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on radio station 891ABC about United Nations World Toilet Day. In the interview Kelly Vincent discusses the need for the South Australian Government to fund Changing Places, a specialised toilet facility for those with additional sanitation needs. Here is the transcript from the interview.

Henschke: Kelly Vincent, its United Nations World Toilet Day. I’m pleased to see you see it as a very important issue, the provision of proper toilets.

Kelly Vincent: To access proper sanitation is vital to human life, to quality of life, and that’s why Dignity for Disability wanted to support World Toilet Day. But when thinking about how we might put a South Australian bent on this Dignity for Disability saw this as a great opportunity to promote Changing Places, which is a movement to get more accessible toilets out in the community, but not only standard accessible toilets, toilets that have increased accessible features like for example a hoist to help a person get on and off the toilet and things also like an adult-sized change table. Often we see change tables but they’re often only for infants and small children when in fact there are many people with disabilities or in fact even older people who still require assistance to change even when they’re adults or young adults so there is a need to provide this very important facility in South Australia. I understand that Victoria already has six Changing Places toilets in the state and we see this as a great opportunity to provide greater access to community for people with disabilities and older people, but also to promote tourism because we know that people with disabilities and older people who have these access needs will go specifically to places where they know that they can change with dignity and privacy, so we see this as a great opportunity to promote tourism in the state.

Henschke: You’d want one somewhere close to the main shopping centre, or even the Festival Theatre. This is a slightly larger toilet with a change table that would take an adult or a teenager with a hoist type arrangement over the toilet, I wouldn’t, I imagine cost a lot.

Kelly Vincent: The estimate is that if you already have the infrastructure there, you’ve got the large room with the plumbing and so on and the electricity for the hoist it will only cost around $110,000 per Changing Place which is a small change when we consider that this could very well see more people coming to those venues because they know that they’re able to change and use the venue with privacy and dignity. We work with many constituents who tell us already, either as people with disabilities or older people, that they’re already limited in the number of venues they can visit throughout the state whether that be seeing a concert or using a swimming pool because they need these facilities. So they’re very limited in where they can go already. By providing more of these facilities I think we’ll see a boost in the economy through tourism and more people accessing these venues, so there are benefits to it for sure. We’ve been working with the Adelaide City Council for some time on trying to get a Changing Places here in South Australia. I understand that they are looking at providing one at or near the North Adelaide Aquatic Centre as a start.

Henschke: What about in the revamped Festival Theatre, this massive new convention centre the architects are working on those things at the moment. Surely it would be simple to do it as part of that planning process?

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely, I think that’s a really important point that we need to look at building these as a matter of course rather than retro-fitting because ultimately that’s a way to save money too. We know that retro-fitting is far more expensive than putting things in place when we’re creating a new build.

Henschke: So they could have done this at the Adelaide Oval and they could definitely do it in the rebuilding of the Convention Centre. They could do it where they’re doing the new hospital additions and things like that, still not too late to put two or three around.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely and Dignity for Disability did lobby and continues to lobby for the Adelaide Oval, as one example, to be a great place for one of these. There’s a lot of space there, obviously large crowds using that space and we want to boost the economy, especially with the closure of Holden and the automotive industry and we think tourism is a great way to do that, particularly with older people and people who have disabilities who haven’t necessarily been able to spend as much money as they might have liked because they’re not able to access as many venues. So we think this is a great opportunity, you’re right – the Festival Centre and the redevelopment there may well be another opportunity to take advantage of this.

Henschke: We had Neil Sachse on the program recently and I know that he’d be a person who’d be very familiar with what can happen to football players in terms of injuries like that it’d almost be ethically responsible of the football stadium to put one in.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely. I get quite frustrated when I hear disability access needs talked about as special needs, because we tend to forget that 20% of the population in Australia has a disability of some kind and then of course there are elderly people, people with young children, parents with prams, people with temporary injuries and so really this isn’t about catering to special needs – this is about providing for the future of South Australia which will happen to us through the aging process, or as you said through accident or injury whether we like it or not. So it absolutely makes sense both from a social point of view but an economic point of view to put these measures in place now rather than trying to retrofit when we know our population’s aging.

Henschke: Victoria’s got the jump on us if they’ve got six of these Changing Places. People will say if I’m going to choose a place to go for a holiday if they’re an international visitor and they’ve got someone who’s in a wheelchair or needs disability access like that they’ll look at Melbourne, and they’ll be able to put that on their tourist material.

Kelly Vincent: The other thing that we need to recognise is the dignity that these toilets provide. Many people with disabilities at the moment who might need assistance to change on a large changing table but there aren’t any, will only have the choice of

Henschke: Lying on the ground…

Kelly Vincent: on the floor of a public toilet which, as you can all imagine, is extremely uncomfortable but also quite unsafe in terms of the sanitation aspect. So there are many benefits to providing Changing Places and I think South Australia, particularly with the closing of the automotive industry in the state we need to look at how we can boost our coffers and tourism, respectful, responsive tourism I think is a great way to do that.

Henschke: Thank you very much. As one of our texters pointed out this morning you have got plenty of constituents that you’re representing.

Kelly Vincent: I have to say that was actually me.

Henschke: Oh it was you, was it!

Kelly Vincent: I did take big issue with what was said that Upper House MPs have no constituents when in fact we represent the entire state and we certainly have in my office about 700 constituent files that we’re dealing with every day and that number is growing every day and I have to say that some of those are actually referred to my office from other MPs offices. So I do take issue with this idea that Upper House MPs have no constituents because certainly the majority of us are working very hard to serve a very large constituency and certainly we might take issue with things that one or two people do and certainly we should all be ashamed and outraged by what has been uncovered with Mr Finnigan but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the majority of us are working very hard to serve South Australia.

Henschke: Thank you very much.