New designs and features for Changing Places
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Disability 30 March 2020

New designs and features for Changing Places

Changing Places enable people with high support needs to enjoy day-to-day lives many of us take for granted. The new Changing Place Design Specifications 2020 include updated designs, new features and a fourth design option.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah has an extremely rare genetic condition called Pallister-Killian syndrome and, like the 326,400 Victorians with high support needs, she requires support with aspects of her personal care. When Sarah and her family are away from home, they must sometimes cut their outing short and go home so that they can and attend to her toileting needs. This can feel isolating and affects their quality of life. Her mother Rebecca asks, ‘Where do you change a nappy for someone in their teens?’  

The answer is, a Changing Place. Changing Places are larger than standard accessible public toilets with full sized change tables and hoists designed to support the needs of people with severe and profound disabilities. They are located at major public places – like universities, shopping malls, sporting stadiums and significant arts and culture locations. They allow people with high support needs to work, study and attend social, sporting and cultural events – things many of us take for granted.

The first Changing Place was built in Ringwood, Victoria in 2014 and today there are more than 130 Changing Places in major public places across Australia. But, they’ve come a long way since 2014.

In 2019, Australia became the first country in the world to regulate for public toilets based on the Changing Places design. As of 1 May 2019,The National Construction Code 2019 released by the Australian Building Code Board requires a new class of toilet called Accessible Adult Change Facilities to be included in certain classes of public buildings, including some shopping centres, sports and entertainment venues and airports.

Now, another step forward. In April, the Changing Places design specifications 2020 was released. It includes updated designs and new features – each based on feedback from users of the facilities currently in operation. There are now four, not three, design options. The new specifications also provide the technical design specifications and updated costings to build a Changing Places facility to one of the four design options. They provide information about the relationship between Changing Places and the National Construction Code.

They are also designed as an education and advocacy tool for organisations and individuals wanting to learn about Changing Places – and for those seeking to campaign for more facilities in their communities. Social worker and disability rights advocate, Liz, welcomes more facilities. She said, ‘More Changing Places means widening the boundaries experienced by people with severe physical disabilities and giving them a greater choice of places to go.’

It is a basic human right to be able to access a clean, safe and private place to take care of our personal care. The Changing Places Design Specifications 2020 aim to ensure that Changing Places continue to evolve and to play a vital role in enabling more people to participate in social, recreational and economic activities. People like thirteen year-old Sarah and her family.

When a public space has a Changing Place, Rebecca can change Sarah without hurting her back – or returning home. Rebecca said, ‘Changing Places provide the security of knowing we can access a place, where we can take care of her physical and sanitary needs, with privacy and dignity.’

The new design specifications can be downloaded from this page.

Locations of all currently open facilities in Australia, building specifications and guidelines can be found on the national Changing Places website.

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Last updated: 01 March 2020