Katherine Webber recently returned from her Churchill Fellowship after travelling to the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands and Germany, where she researched taboos, design, policy and legal barriers regarding access and inclusion to public toilets.
“I was interested in exploring how barriers to accessibility and inclusion in public toilet design, policy and legislation are being addressed across the world as toilets support the active inclusion of all people in public spaces,” said Ms Webber. “Where toilets are not provided, or there are barriers to their access or use, this contributes to the exclusion of an individual or group of people from the public space.”
Ms Webber attended 28 meetings with community groups, community representatives, advocates and activists, academics, toilet manufacturers, government, business, social enterprise, non-government organisations, library staff and toilet enthusiasts. Whilst the topics covered across the meetings were broad, they all focused on how to meet the basic human need of going to the toilet.
“The Churchill Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to attend the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The priority theme of CSW was social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls,” said Ms Webber. “I learnt about innovative solutions to support inclusive and accessibility in public toilets ensuring the planning, provision and maintenance of public toilets supports the dignity, humanity and human rights of people. It is time to now amplify this discussion in Australia amongst community members, policy makers and planners and designers.”