Perth Airport‚Äôs commitment to helping open the world for travellers living with disability.
In February 2022, Perth Airport opened the doors to its first Changing Places. The facility is located on the ground floor of Terminal 1 International, in the check in area. The landside location means it is also accessible to passengers travelling with Virgin Australia from Terminal 1 Domestic.
For Darron Freegard, Terminal Planning & Strategy Manager, a Changing Places is an opportunity to contribute to globally accessible travel.
‚ÄúThe ability to travel to visit friends and family, explore new places, and meet people of different cultures for all members of the community is critically important to human happiness and mental health.
‚ÄúBeing able to explore new cultures and seek out new experiences is also really important to me personally. I want to use my role to encourage customers with disability to travel with confidence, by making sustained improvements to the overall level of terminal accessibility so that these experiences are available to all,‚Äù says Darron.
Perth now joins three other major airports with Changing Places facilities: Sydney International Airport, Brisbane Airport, and most recently, Adelaide Airport. Changing Places remove barriers for travellers living with a disability. For Perth Airport, installing the facilities are part of a bigger push to make terminals more accessible – which has included replacing stairs with ramps at departure gates.
For Darron, improving accessibility in travel is an ongoing passion.
In 2009, he led the design for a new regional terminal. With an interest in disability issues, he set up a working group to ensure the project met the needs of¬† travellers living with a disability. Since then, Darron has been advocating for accessibility in travel, and recognises the importance of having these conversations early on in planning.
‚ÄúCost is often considered to be the main barrier, particularly when renovating existing facilities.
‚ÄúHowever, I believe that the key issue to overcome is a general lack of awareness of the difficulties travellers living with a disability face when using facilities that have not been designed for universal access from the outset. Identifying the needs for all travellers at the very start of the project ensures that we can deliver a great, stress free experience for travellers living with a disability, encouraging them to travel more frequently.
In opening the facility, Darron and the team at Perth Airport hope to signal to the disability community that their voice is being heard, and that businesses such as the Airport are rightly investing in high quality facilities to meet their needs, and in this case, actively encouraging greater travel.
Perth Airport is also commencing construction on a second Changing Places facility within Terminal 4 in the coming months.
To see our list of Changing Places across the country, visit https://changingplaces.org.au/find-a-toilet/find-changing-places-toilet/