“As a state-run cultural organisation, funded by taxpayers, everyone should have a right to enter with equitable access throughout,” says Amanda Farrar, Director Public Affairs & Development at the Australian Museum (Sydney).
As a part of this commitment, the museum recently built its very own Changing Places facility – ensuring people with high support needs have access to all the wonders the museum has to offer.
“As a museum, we showcase some really important things. We talk about climate change, science and biodiversity and give voices to First Nations people.. It’s important that important social issues include everyone in our community, which is why access is so important to us,” says Amanda.
Our journey to better access was embedded in our 2017 master plan where we looked toward the future.
As part of that process, the team consulted with their access and inclusion advisory panel – a group of seven people who either work in disability or have a lived experience of disability.
As the museum’s redevelopment gained momentum, the panel suggested the inclusion of a Changing Places facility. which was embedded into the plans.
“It made sense, if we’re upgrading our bathrooms it was important to strive for excellence, rather than just ticking a box,” says Amanda.
“We worked together to make sure we created a space that was going to work best for our visitors.”
The inclusion of a Changing Places facility was just one part of how the museum made itself more accessible and equitable – it also installed hearing loops and other technology, as well as parent rooms and gender-neutral bathrooms. They also made it free for everyone to visit.
“Every government organisation, and actually most organisations if they have the means, should have one of these facilities. It’s a clear and relatively simple process to embed accessibility at the planning stages and the results have made such a difference,” says Amanda.
In fact, Amanda says Changing Places should become standard in all buildings, not just those required under the National Construction Code.
“They should be the norm for any organisation that has large groups of the public coming through. I invite any organisation to come and see what we’re doing now at the museum, and start thinking about how you can embed accessibility,” she says.
So, what are you waiting for? Organisations looking to get started building their own Changing Places facility should visit our getting started page to find out where to begin.