Changing Places inspires a welcome change to the National Construction Code
In welcome news for people with a disability, their carers and families, a new class of toilet - accessible adult change facility (AACF) - is now mandated within the 2019 National Construction Code.
Based on the Changing Places design, these dedicated toilets provide a tracking hoist, adult sized change table, peninsula toilet and extra space for people with complex disabilities – removing a major obstacle to their participation and inclusion within the community.
A hidden barrier
The lack of ‘fit for purpose’ toilet facilities is a huge barrier to participation and enjoyment of sporting, cultural and community events. Stories of having to change children on a dirty toilet floor, or needing to leave a football game at half-time because of inadequate facilities were confronting reminders of the disadvantage this caused.
A new national mandate
The National Construction Code (NCC) outlines the minimum standards for safety, health and accessibility in the construction of new buildings or new building work throughout Australia.
From 1 May 2019, certain classes of public building including major shopping centres, sports venues, pools, museums, theatres, art galleries and airport terminals will need to include the new accessible toilets within their venues.
The good news for venue owners is that toilets built to the Changing Places design will meet the requirements of the new NCC.
Rina Sherry, the Community Building Manager for the Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority says “Australia is the first country in the world to regulate for truly accessible public toilets based on the Changing Places design. This is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the many Changing Places supporters across the country.”
One change, many benefits
The benefits are many, including increased participation across a wide range of cultural and community events, and greater opportunities to engage with the workforce.
Most importantly, the provision of this new class of public toilet will enhance a sense of greater personal freedom and empowerment while reducing stress for those caring for people with disability.
“The simple right to access functional toilets and change facilities itself opens up a wide range of experiences and opportunities too long denied people with disabilities,” says Changing Places advocate, Dr. George Taleporos.
The Changing Places program
Inspired by the UK initiative, the first Australian Changing Places toilet was launched in Victoria at Maroondah City Council in 2014.
Victoria has been a leader in promoting Changing Places and was the first state to directly fund the construction of Changing Places in 2015. Since then it has funded 32 Changing Places and incorporated Changing Places into new infrastructure builds including hospitals, sports stadiums and train stations.
Western Australia and other states soon followed by promoting and funding more Changing Places. The private sector were also early adopters with nearly every major shopping centre company in Australia committing to build Changing Places. There are now 85 Changing Places toilets across Australia, 36 of which are in Victoria.
Locations of all currently open facilities and building specifications and guidelines can be found on the national Changing Places website.