Lack of changing places

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times

Margaret River is lagging behind the rest of the State in providing infrastructure for people living with disabilities, according to a mother and daughter who were disappointed with a recent trip to the region.

Jodie Griffiths and daughter Rachael, 23, who lives with cerebral palsy, recently embarked on a five-day getaway down south, but said their days were often cut short because of a lack of suitable adult changing facilities, forcing them to travel an hour-and-a-half back to their accommodation.

Ms Griffiths said while Margaret River was a world-class tourist region with accessible destinations, it laked basic facilities.

“The closest public facility was 200km away,” she said.

“It’s something most people wouldn’t even comprehend having to go through or experience but it’s still a reality for us and many others.

“Our days were cut short to attend to needs that can’t be controlled and makes for a disruptive holiday. It’s also very upsetting and embarrassing for my daughter.”

Augusta-Margaret River Shire community development officer Katie Taylor said the Shire’s community access and inclusion reference group had discussed the need for an adult changing facility for several years.

She said a facility was considered as part of the upgrades to public toilets at the Scout Hall and public toilets at the corner of Fearn and Charles West avenues but it was deemed infeasible because of lack of funding, budget constraints and unsuitability of the site.

Ms Griffiths pointed to the nationwide Changing Places initiative, which provides lockable adult changing facilities designed to include an adult changing table, hoist and sufficient space to cater for carers. “It’s common knowledge around Perth that the South West is lagging behind,” she said.

“Making the most of existing resources to incorporate something as simple as a Changing Places facility would definitely go a long way to assist individuals, their families, friends and carers.”

The State Government has earmarked funding for the development of Changing Places in about 12 locations across WA, including Bunbury and Collie, but facilities are yet to be announced for areas south of Bunbury.

The Augusta-Margaret River Shire hopes to install a Changing Places facility and has opened the idea for public comment until Sunday, January 28.

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