Public toilets around the country, including at the Basin Reserve cricket ground, should be for all, not just for some.
That’s according to Changing Places New Zealand founder and accessibility toilet advocate Jenn Hooper who has designed toilets for the Hamilton Gardens that include a full-sized change table, a hoist, shower and height adjustable hand basins and toilets.
“[Going to the toilet] is the single, most basic human need… and it’s no way being met at the moment in a dignity or even in a hygiene way,” Hooper says. “There is a level of discrimination that is completely hidden and unheard of”.
This follows an on-going discussion about the redesign of the toilets at the Basin Reserve. Currently there are twice as many toilets available to men than women, and only two accessibility toilets available to the general public.
The Wellington City Council has promised $7 million to the redesign of the Museum Stand.
Last November, Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons said eight new accessibility and gender-neutral toilets were to be installed. Wellington City Council oversees the redevelopment of the Basin Reserve.
In a statement supplied to Fair Play this week head of communications Richard MacLean says two accessibility toilets will be installed in line with the current codes.
He says the council has had “dealings” with its Accessibility Advisory Group and the council doesn’t expect this group to make “bespoke changes to these standards”.
Jenn Hooper has a highly disabled child and says current toilet codes do not meet everyone’s requirements.
“As soon as you’ve got someone like my daughter Charley who is in nappies forever then what do you do?” she asks. “You can’t use the baby change table.”
Some people with disabilities resort to being cared for on the floor of public toilets. That, says Hooper, is unacceptable. “I would challenge anyone to walk into a public toilet with bare feet, let alone lay down on it,” she says.
Hooper is currently working with several other councils and organisations to build more fully accessible toilets. She’s hoping another four will be opened around the country by Christmas.
The toilets will also have a secured access system which allows those who need it to have access.
Hooper says it also helps protect the $50,000 worth of specialist equipment each toilet contains and will keep out others who don’t need it.
“It will keep out the vagrants… and vandals. And the likes of [All Black] Aaron Smith,” she says.
Ultimately councils and other organisations providing facilities to the public need to step up.
“They have a responsibility to provide public conveniences for all of their community… not almost all,” says Hooper.
International cricketer and Wellington Blaze player Sophie Devine loves the Basin Reserve. In fact, it’s one of her favourite ground to play at around the world. She says it’s a “no brainer” to have facilities that cater for all.
“We talk about [cricket] being a sport for all. You’ve got to provide facilities that cater for all… not for almost all, but for all,” she says. “Whether it’s wheel chairs, whether it’s lower basins, whatever it is, more volume is always important. There’s nothing worse than queueing out the door for toilets.”
“Whatever can be done to make that easier for everyone will be a win for all.”
Also this month on Fair Play: White Fern Sophie Devine co-hosts, Football Fern Sarah Gregorius talks us through the build up to the Football World Cup, and Women In Sport Aotearoa CEO Rachel Froggatt reports back from a visit to the United Nations.