It’s a monumental day here at Changing Places.

The 19th of July 2021 marks the sixth annual International Changing Places Awareness Day. A day wholly dedicated to celebrating the efforts of our global community who are a part of advocating, building, promoting – and most importantly – using Changing Places.

Today, we’re taking the opportunity to tell the Changing Places story and showcase the incredible people involved in helping make Australia a more accessible country.

Changing Places began its journey in the United Kingdom in 2006, on behalf of over a quarter of a million people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. This covers a wide range of people, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and older people.

In 2011, Jack Mulholland, Community Access and Inclusion Facilitator at Maroondah City Council, approached the UK Changing Places Consortium, seeking approval to use the Changing Places logo. From there, the development of design specifications for use in Australia commenced, marking a significant step in Australia’s Changing Places journey.

To this day, Jack continues to be a fierce advocate for Changing Places builds across Australian councils.

“We should be covering every community, and make sure all Australians with disabilities – no matter where they live – can access Changing Places,” says Jack (read more about Jack here).

The advocacy was a huge success, leading to the first official Changing Places facility opening in Ringwood, Victoria, 2014. Over time, more and more facility owners wanted to open their doors to people with high support needs across states and territories. To date, we’ve grown to a cool 178 facilities across the country, ranging from regional railway station in Bendigo, all the way to the iconic Australia Zoo in Queensland.

But who are the faces behind our Australian facilities?

For starters are our incredible Technical Advisory Team and Changing Places Assessors, responsible for ensuring each and every facility meets the technical requirements of our Design Specifications. Our Assessors have a strong eye for detail and are stringent in making sure that every facility meets the standards and meets the needs of our user community.

Next up is the system that helps ensure our facilities are kept clean, functioning and accessible for our user community; The Master Locksmiths Access Key (MLAK) system. The system is an MLAA (Master Locksmith Association Australasia) initiative that manufactures the keys many facilities require to allow people with high support needs access to dedicated public facilities. MLAK’s ensure Changing Places are kept clean, accessible, and safe for our community. 

Lastly – but most importantly – are the 1.4 million Australians identified by the ABS with profound or severe limitation with core activities that we build Changing Places for. With a Changing places facility, the world is unlocked for 1.4 million Australians, their carers and family.

With Changing Places in every Airport, Liz Ellis would be able to achieve her dream of surfing in every state of Australia.

With Changing Places dotted all around Queensland Bella and Breanna would be able lead the adventurous lives of two young ladies that they’ve always dreamed of.

With a Changing Places present in most locations, Rebecca would be able to know that every time she leaves the house, she has the capacity to safely assist her daughter go to the bathroom, without having to change on dirty public toilet floors.

We’re thrilled to see Australia open up more and more each year for people with high support needs and their carers – and we’re just getting started.

Here’s to many more facilities and accessibility for all!

Be sure to check out our feature newsletter to see all of our exciting news this Awareness Day, including Peta Hooke’s feature podcast, a video of the new facility at Federation Square featuring Changing Places user Liz Ellis, and photos of the new facility at Australia Zoo!