Bathurst Regional Access Committee response to call for change rooms

RESPONSE: Chairman/secretary Bob Triming and his fellow members of the Bathurst Regional Access Committee have responded to a call for new facilities.
RESPONSE: Chairman/secretary Bob Triming and his fellow members of the Bathurst Regional Access Committee have responded to a call for new facilities.

BATHURST Regional Access Committee (BRAC) is disappointed with the article in the Western Advocate on September 3 (“Advocate inspired to form disability group”), which was obviously written based on the information provided to the journalist.

BRAC has often praised the Western Advocate for its excellent and accurate reporting of disability matters.

BRAC has absolutely no objection to any new advocacy group for Bathurst. What BRAC does object to is the misrepresentation that BRAC was unable to help in relation to the provision of “Change Rooms”. The actual name is Changing Places – Fully Accessible Change Rooms.

The proposal put to our committee was a demand for several of these Changing Places (up to five) to be built around Bathurst.

Lengthy discussion ensued, and BRAC wrote to council to clarify several matters about the facilities, including costs, operations, liability, vandalism expectations, and how users could be trained to safely operate the electronic machinery such as lifting equipment and electric beds, etc. Council replied and discussions were held over the phone with a senior council manager.

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BRAC has always supported the creation of one Changing Place which would be in addition to the existing one at the pool. The estimated cost of these Changing Places is exceptionally high. Council has informed BRAC, and we agree, that planning is required and funding needs to be procured. This is all recorded in our minutes of meetings.

BRAC takes into account that when we make suggestions to council, commonsense has to prevail. After all, it is ratepayers’ money.

BRAC also considers the statements in the same article, that “we don’t have disability toilets for adults with disabilities in the community” and “why hasn’t this been bought up before”, are ridiculous and seem to be aimed at creating unnecessary hysteria against council - a council that goes out of its way to provide equitable access in Bathurst.

This is grossly misleading, and those reading this article on the internet exterior to Bathurst must think Bathurst is some discriminatory backwater town. Every publicly accessible toilet in Bathurst is built to the Australian Building Standards in force at the time of their creation and they all accommodate adults. Currently, five council-owned accessible toilets are under review at the request of BRAC, however, they still accommodate adults. All shopping centres have at least one unisex accessible toilet that meets current Australian Standards for accessible toilets and such standards mean they are built for all, including adults.

When people make misleading comments such as these, it has to cause damage to the disability tourism dollar for Bathurst. In 2017, Tourism Research Australia states that in the first three months of 2017, people with disability spent $3 billion on tourism services across Australia – that’s roughly $12 billion annually.

BRAC, for the last 30 years of operation, has prided itself on providing accurate information, combined with firm but courteous mediation and advocacy to all levels of government.

Previously, we have negotiated with a prime minister and federal parliamentary secretary for disabilities. BRAC has just successfully mediated an issue with the state Minister for Environmental Services.

We are in communication with the Member for Bathurst almost monthly. Even the NSW Governor has been approached in relation to a disability access issue.

BRAC meetings, which any non-exempted person or organisation can attend, are not talk-fests. They are extremely busy meetings attending to more than 30 items some days. Just take a look around Bathurst and you will see the proof of our volunteers’ mediation. Independent of council, we meet every third Monday of the month at 1pm at the Civic Centre in Russell Street. Come along.

Bathurst Regional Access Committee