Penrith Council continues to move the city forward with the opening of a new adult change facility in the CBD.
The widely supported idea came from Deputy Mayor of Penrith, Tricia Hitchen, who has an 18-year-old disabled son.
“I was out with the family one day and I needed to take my son home to change him,” Cr Hitchen told the Weekender.
“I thought it was ridiculous that I had to go all the way home – it was a light bulb moment for me when I thought of this idea.”
Unveiled on Wednesday, Cr Hitchen requested a Council proposal on the idea in an April 2016 meeting, which was met with unanimous support from her fellow Councillors.
The $80,000 unisex change rooms are located in the adjoining arcade to The Triangle Park in the Penrith CBD.
“I’m so proud, it’s so personal for me because it affects my life but I’m so proud this Council thought it was important,” Cr Hitchen said.
“I’m just so happy that Council saw this as a priority.”
Facilities will be installed around Penrith and St Marys with the next location, East Lane in St Marys, expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Penrith Mayor John Thain said the new change facilities will give a sense of freedom and dignity to people with disability and their carers.
“The adult change room allows people with disability to get out and about in Penrith and enjoy their time in the city knowing their toiletry and hygiene needs are catered for,” Cr Thain said.
Cr Thain said bathroom access and facilities can be a major social issue.
“The lack of appropriate toileting facilities is a fundamental barrier to social inclusion,” he said.
“Access to these facilities has the ability to transform the lives of people with disability by allowing them to go places.”
Phone applications, websites and disability organisations will all be updated with the information that the facility is there to use.
“Penrith Council really is one of the best accessibility Councils in NSW, it’s always a focus and was long before I was here,” Cr Hitchen said.