When it is not legislated: How can we improve access and inclusion in public toilets?
Discussion Leader: Kathrine Webber, Independent Consultant
Table Topic Discussion
The legal framework provides the foundations for the planning, design, provision, construction, operation and maintenance of public toilets. As part of research towards Churchill Fellowship in six countries, a commonality across each of the places I visited was that there was no legislative requirement for government to provide toilets in public spaces. However, when toilets are provided, their construction must meet international and national standards and the relevant building codes. The provision of and access to toilets is intrinsically linked to achieving other government strategies, especially those related to physical activity and tourism. Hence the importance of legislation, ordinance and by-laws was a consistent theme across many of the meetings.
In Wales, the Public Health Act (2017), requires local authorities to develop toilet strategies. “By working with local partners and those affected by continence issues, the toilet strategy will have to assess the need for toilets locally and will set out the steps the local authority propose to take to increase access to toilets in their area.” (Crohn’s & Colitis UK). The legislation also ensures that local authorities will need to coordinate to consider access to toilets along key transport routes and within cultural venues and events. While the Wales Public Health Act 2017 does not mandate the provision of public toilets the strategy must include a local assessment of need and how the local authority will address the local need. In this table topic discussion let’s discuss what legislation and policy is required to progress inclusive and accessible public toilet provision in Australia.