Changing Places Facility in Echuca

21 April 2017 - Media release

Council has accepted a grant of $100,000 from the state government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as a contribution towards the construction of a Changing Places facility in Echuca for people with a severe disability.

The DHHS initiative, Changing Places, Transforming Lives, aims to improve the lives of people with a severe disability and their carers. The program focuses on issues where standard accessible (disabled) toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability or their carers. 

Campaspe Mayor, Cr Adrian Weston, said construction of a Changing Places facility would break down social exclusion by improving the ability of people with severe disability to more fully participate in their community.

“Over five per cent of Victorians suffer from profound and severe disabilities; however, significant structural barriers, such as a lack of accessible public infrastructure, prevent them from being able to participate in community life,” Cr Weston said.

“Many people with high support needs find it difficult to leave the house for more than a few hours so they avoid accessing the community for a range of everyday situations that we all take for granted. 

“A Changing Places facility, specifically designed to cater for the health and hygiene needs of those with severe disability, would encourage their greater involvement in mainstream community activities, thereby enhancing the lives of the individual, their family and carers.” 

Changing Places facilities are fully accessible public amenities with hoists and adult-sized change tables for people with a disability who cannot use regular change facilities, showers or public toilets.

“People with severe disability as well as those with spinal injuries, spina bifida, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or acquired brain injury, often need extra equipment so that personal hygiene and toileting can be effectively managed,” Cr Weston said.

“However, in the absence of a Changing Places facility, carers are often faced with choosing between managing a person’s personal needs on the floor of a public toilet or being confined to the home.

“This is clearly not an acceptable situation and as a community we must do all we can to break down social exclusion where it’s identified and facilitate solutions that are dignified and enhance the quality of people’s lives.”

 Changing Places facilities are to be provided in addition to and separate from regular disabled facilities to cater for the unique range of user requirements. 

“With approximately six per cent of the Campaspe population needing help with their daily lives due to a disability, such a facility would be highly beneficial to members of our community,” he said.

Changing Places facilities are only accessible via a national key system, using a Master Lock Access Key. This system ensures that genuine users have ready access to the facility when needed and eliminates their potential use for inappropriate activities. 

DHHS is providing the $100,000 in funding to council for a Changing Places facility, after local disability service providers highlighted the need based on community feedback. Council will consider the location of such a facility and if further funds needed, following a further report to Council.

Any future consideration of potential locations for the facility would occur in consultation with key disability service providers.