Dis­abil­ity fa­cil­ity falls short

Stirling Times - - News - Laura Pond

A $150,000 fa­cil­ity for peo­ple with pro­found dis­abil­i­ties has opened at Scar­bor­ough Beach but a dis­abil­ity ad­vo­cate says vi­tal as­pects are un­suit­able.

The City of Stir­ling and Metropoli­tan Re­de­vel­op­ment Author­ity (MRA) cre­ated the Chang­ing Places fa­cil­ity, a State Govern­ment ini­tia­tive, as part of the Scar­bor­ough fore­shore re­de­vel­op­ment.

Os­borne Park res­i­dent Brooke Franklin, who has cere­bral palsy and uses a wheel­chair, toured the chang­e­room but was dis­ap­pointed to dis­cover sev­eral de­fi­cien­cies.

“I re­ally, re­ally love it but for peo­ple like me in a wheel­chair it’s not go­ing to work,” she said.

Ms Franklin’s con­cerns in­cluded the po­si­tion of the duress (panic) but­ton “con­sid­er­ably out of reach” from the toi­let, lack of duress but­ton in the shower, po­si­tion­ing of con­trollers for the hoist and chang­ing ta­ble, and lack of ven­ti­la­tion.

“Even some­one with a long reach would still need to stand up and take a few steps to press the (toi­let duress) but­ton,” she said.

“I know that some of th­ese may seem triv­ial but they can also be very large is­sues, es­pe­cially if they are want­ing to be more in­de­pen­dent.”

Ms Franklin ac­knowl­edged the City was re­spon­sive to her sug­ges­tions but was con­cerned the fa­cil­ity did not en­cour­age in­de­pen­dence.

A MRA spokes­woman said it con­sulted the City’s dis­abil­ity ac­cess team through­out the re­de­vel­op­ment project and the de­sign was stan­dard and set by the Chang­ing Places ad­vo­cacy group.

The fa­cil­ity in­cludes a toi­let and show­er­ing fa­cil­i­ties, hoist, adult chang­ing ta­ble and au­to­matic door which can be ac­cessed any time via a mas­ter key.

A City spokes­woman said the de­sign was based on the Aus­tralian Chang­ing Places in­for­ma­tion guide and com­plied with tech­ni­cal stan­dards. It was in­tended for peo­ple with pro­found dis­abil­i­ties to use with a carer.

Stir­ling Mayor Mark Ir­win said Ms Franklin pro­vided valu­able feed­back on changes that would en­able peo­ple to use it in­de­pen­dently.

“The City has taken on board this feed­back and we are work­ing with con­sul­tants, staff and the City’s Ac­cess and In­clu­sion Ad­vi­sory Group to con­sider how it can be in­cor­po­rated,” he said.

“The over­whelm­ing feed­back at the open­ing and since has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive.”

The MRA has built Chang­ing Places fa­cil­i­ties at Perth’s Ya­gan Square and El­iz­a­beth Quay and 18 are be­ing built by lo­cal gov­ern­ments across Perth and re­gional WA.

Brooke Franklin with her part­ner Martin Do­herty and Stir­ling Mayor Mark Ir­win at Chang­ing Places in Scar­bor­ough Beach.

This pho­to­graph shows the dis­tance be­tween the toi­let and duress (panic) but­ton in­side the Chang­ing Places fa­cil­ity.

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