Jocelyn Franciscus, Project Lead for Community Awareness Strategy at the NDS WA, sees a Changing Places facility as more than just a toilet. It is a sense of freedom.
For people with a disability who require a Changing Places, knowing that there is a facility that will meet your requirements and create a safe and secure environment, provides unmatched confidence.
“The freedom to go about your daily life knowing that yes, you can get into your bathers at the beach or you can access a fully accessible toilet and changing facility when you’re out and about – its unparalleled.”
There are currently 34 Changing Places facilities across Western Australia, and as the Community Awareness Strategy Project Lead, it is a part of Jocelyn’s role to promote disability and access inclusion initiatives and the benefits they produce.
“Our network of Changing Places in Western Australia is state-of-the-art, and a fine example of access and inclusion,” says Jocelyn.
“As Changing Places are relatively new to Western Australia, NDS is working hard to raise more awareness about the facilities, and how to access them: in particular how to obtain an MLAK key required to access facilities.”
Recently, Jocelyn and the NDS, with input from the City of Mandurah, produced a video raising awareness about accessing Changing Places facilities, which you can find here.
For Jocelyn, starting conversations and raising awareness about Changing Places facilities, whether that be through videos like the one above, or directly outreaching to local government, plays an important role in kickstarting new builds of facilities.
“For those wanting to see a facility in their local area, I say start a conversation directly with the access and inclusion or community development officer at your local government and make a request. If you know of other people with disability who require Changing Places, ask them to request one too.
“Provide your local government with clear examples of existing Changing Places that work well and provide ideas of locations where they could be and why,” says Jocelyn.
But as well as communities pushing for their own Changing Places, Jocelyn agrees that it would be fantastic for Changing Places to be the mandated norm in national standards such as the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards.
“This would create a new benchmark for accessibility in Australia. Importantly, it would ensure there will be more Changing Places available across Australia for people with disability to access.”
When asked where Jocelyn would love most to see a facility built, her answer echoes the work she does at NDS and her belief that a Changing Places facility holds the metaphorical (MLAK) key to unlocking a sense of freedom for users.
“Honestly, I would love to see them everywhere, so there’s never a time where a person has to go too far to find one. I think with enough advocacy, time and the right funding, this could be a possibility.”
Want to help push your local government area to build a Changing Places facility? Learn more about building a Changing Places facility here.