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  • Writer's picturePeta

Special: Changing Places Awareness Day

I bet you were not expecting me in your feed on a Monday. The 19th of July is a very special day for many people with disabilities.

Today is Changing Places Awareness Day.

So what is a Changing Places toilet? Find out everything there is to know in this weeks' episode.

Find a Changing Places Toilet:

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You can follow Peta's personal account on Instagram @petahooke


Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast. I bet you weren't expecting me on a Monday. This is the podcast that answers your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta. I have cerebral palsy and every week I answer a question from you, the audience, about what it's like to live with a disability. This week, though, it's a little bit different. And that's because today, Monday, the 19th of July, 2021 is Changing Places Awareness Day and because Changing Places Toilets define my life and independence, I thought I would take the opportunity and explain to you why change places toilets are so important to people like me and maybe people like you. So without any further ado, let's get into it.

[00:01:07] So clearly this week, there is no question from you. I've never done this before, and the reason why I believe it's a good idea; is Changing Places Toilets define my life, define other people's lives and really, I believe the general public doesn't even know that they exist. So I think it's really important that I use my voice to highlight something that determines my own independence and other people's independence, because, after all, using the bathroom is a human right, but it's a human right that's pretty limited because of the lack of changing places facilities around Australia.

[00:01:54] So what is the changing places toilet? Changing places, accessible toilet or accessible bathrooms are for people with higher support needs or for people that can't transfer out of a wheelchair and onto the toilet. I'm one of those people. I can't transfer myself from my wheelchair to the toilet. It's super frustrating to look at a toilet and no, you can't yourself get onto it. So that's where a Changing Places Toilet comes in. A Changing Places Toilet is bigger than an accessible toilet because it allows for two people to be in the room for people that need more assistance. Also, they have an adult change table for people who need that facility. You can imagine trying to put an adult on a baby change table, it's not possible and it's not safe.

[00:02:57] I know that Changing Places in England had a campaign of a mother trying to change her adult child on the floor of a public bathroom because they didn't have access to an adult change table. Can you just imagine the lack of dignity and equity that those two individuals felt? That's where changing places toilets are so important. Not only do they have a hoist system that allows for people like myself to be lifted from the wheelchair to the toilet, but it also allows for people to use and access and adult change table facility. As we know, using the bathroom is a human right, so changing places, toilets are invaluable, fundamental to many people's lives.

[00:03:58] This might be the first time I've ever heard of a training places toilet, and if you like me, need one, there are two ways to locate a Changing Places facility. The first is by visiting Changing Places, Australia's website, which I will link in the description. The other method of finding and Changing Places facility is via the National Public Toilet Map website, which I will also link in the description.

[00:04:32] So how does Changing Places Toilets define my life? Well, let me give you a concrete example of what I'm dealing with right now. I have been invited to a lunch with a friend. But this lunch is on the Mornington Peninsula, a fair distance from my house. How am I going to hang on for the toilet? A pretty depressing and annoying question, but a question I have to ask myself on a regular basis. So it's an hour there and an hour back and obviously the lunch in between and because I haven't seen my friend for a number of months, I want to be there for as long as I can. So I'm sort of factoring in at least a five hour day. Now, I don't know about you, but I know I can't hang on for five hours, and if I tried to, I know I probably have an accident driving on the way home. Sorry, graphic detail, but it's true. Or if I did make it home by some miracle, my bladder would be so sore for days afterwards. It's a common conundrum that I face. I love being social, but the need to go to the toilet often gets in the way.

[00:06:01] So I jumped on the Changing Places website and I'm going to go to a Changing Places Toilet on the way to lunch. And when I say on the way to lunch, it's sort of on the way, I have two options. One is in Hastings, which is 21 kilometres from the restaurant. The other. Well, that's up at Arthurs Seat, the tourist attraction, which is 15 kilometres away. So while I feel very lucky that there are Changing Places toilets available to me to access, it's still far from ideal and far from equitable. The other people at the lunch who don't need changing places facilities will have the toilets mere metres away from where will be. Whereas I will have to factor in time to make sure I'm firstly not late to lunch but also monitor what I eat and drink to make sure that I'm not going to leave it too late, to be frank. So while Changing Places Toilets are fundamental and are a great initiative that has been put in place, clearly we need more. Clearly, my life is still ruled by the need to find a toilet. The mental load of having to find a toilet all the time is really, really difficult. That's why I wanted to use this episode of the podcast to illustrate to you why Changing Places Toilets are so important because if there wasn't a Changing Places Toilet down on the peninsula, I wouldn't be able to attend the lunch. But also because the Changing Places Toilets are so far away from where I'm going to be on the day, it's a stress and anxiety that I have to manage.

[00:08:07] I'm lucky just by circumstance that I live in Melbourne. There are only two Changing Places Toilets in the whole of Tasmania. Both of which are in Hobart. So the fact that there's more than one changing places toilet on the peninsula and in Melbourne, I feel very lucky, but that doesn't mean that there doesn't need to be more. Until there is equitable access to toilets I'm not going to stop in trying to make sure that there are more out there.

[00:08:49] So how can The I Can't Stand Podcast community get more Changing Places built? Well, it's really down to asking and pressuring local councils and businesses to put them in. I remember how excited I was when Chadstone put one in just a few years ago. It was the first time that I could get all my Christmas shopping done in one go. In previous years, I'd have to go home within a couple of hours, go to the toilet and then come back and we all know how difficult it is to find a park during Christmas. It's not a place you want to leave and have to come back. But now those are Changing Places Toilet in Chadstone, I don't have to do that, I have the ability to go to the bathroom just like every other shopper. So to get more Changing Places built and more awareness, can I encourage you to share this episode? Can I encourage you to contact your local council? Can I encourage you to contact your local business and let those councils and businesses understand and know why Changing Places Toilets are so important to be included in their local area or business? Not only is it equitable and just a human right to be able to use the bathroom, it makes good business sense. I'm going to spend more money at a location if I'm able to stay longer.

[00:10:33] I'm going to link Changing Places website and their Facebook page in the description. Jump on their Facebook page, make people know and understand why Changing Places Awareness Day is so important. Access to a toilet might seem like a simple thing, but it defines a person's ability to live their lives and engage in their community. If that's not important. I don't know what is.

[00:11:10] Thank you for taking the time to listen to this week's episode. As you can tell, Changing Places Toilets and Changing Places awareness Day is very important to me and many other people with disabilities. So please make sure you share on your social media either this episode or Changing Places Facebook page. It all helps for equitable access to toilets.

[00:11:41] If you'd like to ask me a question for a future episode of the podcast, as always, there are three ways you can do so. One by my Instagram at @petahooke, which is spelt P.E.T.A

H.O.O.K.E. Via my email or via my website Also if you could rate and review this episode so it can get found on Apple podcasts, that would be absolutely fantastic. Thank you again for listening. Until next week bye, guys.


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