Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Fremantle Changing Place opens

WA Disability Services Minister, Don Punch, joined Fremantle Mayor, Hannah Fitzhardinge yesterday to officially open Fremantle’s first Changing Places facility.

The Changing Place, located on William Street in the City of Fremantle’s new Walyalup Civic Centre, is a secure and private facility for people with disability who need extra space and assistance to use the bathroom.

It was funded through a $150,000 grant from the state government, and includes features like an adult-sized height adjustable change table, hoist, shower, automatic doors and enough room for two people to assist. There are also two ACROD parking bays directly outside.

Access to the Changing Place requires a Master Locksmith Access Key (MLAK). The MLAK system is used to keep the Changing Place network secure, safe and reserved for people who need them, while still allowing people with disability 24/7 access.

Fremantle resident and access advocate, Alvaro Huertas, said the Changing Place would make a big difference for people facing significant mobility challenges.

“I obviously enjoy the city, but having lived in a wheelchair for close to 20 years I’ve seen the challenges of accessibility as well,” Mr Huertas said.

“Accessible changerooms, bathrooms, just generally improving accessibility around the city needs to be a priority, including in recreational areas like the beaches and the state of the footpaths.

“Facilities like this one really help people living with accessibility challenges to get back to as close to normal quality of life as possible.

“The implementation of the MLAK keys is a good concept that will help keep the room clean and available to those who really need it. Having a clean, safe and well-maintained public facility such as this will make it much more appealing, especially to those who need to pay special consideration to issues such as infection control.”

Last year Fremantle Council adopted a new Access and Inclusion plan, which aims to actively address barriers experienced by people with disability and other people who experience exclusion when accessing the City’s facilities, services, and activities.

Mayor Fitzhardinge said the council considered it essential that a Changing Place be included in the new Walyalup Civic Centre.

“The City of Fremantle encourages diversity and is committed to creating an accessible, inclusive and welcoming community for people of all ages and abilities,” Mayor Fitzhardinge said.

“We are committed to making continuous improvements to ensure that buildings, facilities, services, events, information and employment opportunities are available to all community members – including people with disability.

“Fremantle is a special place, and the new Changing Place is one way we can make sure everybody gets to enjoy it.”

There are now 35 Changing Places in Western Australia across Perth and in regional areas.

Minister Punch said the state government was proud to support people with disability in Fremantle with funding for a Changing Place.

“Fremantle is a popular tourism destination in Western Australia and this facility significantly improves amenities for people with disability to ensure they can enjoy visiting the port city,” Mr Punch said.

“Congratulations to the City of Fremantle for demonstrating its commitment to people with disability by providing this important facility.

“Changing Places gives people with disability the confidence to travel and enjoy time away from home with family and friends without worrying about whether access to facilities will be an issue.

“The rapidly growing network of Changing Places across Western Australia ensures people with disability have increased options to travel around and engage in recreation activities across the State.”

For more information about Changing Places go to changingplaces.org.au.

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