Wally’s change for the better

Knox City Council’s metro access officer Peter Johnston, local resident Leanne Watson and Knox Mayor Jake Keogh.

Wally Tew Reserve in Ferntree Gully is home to Knox’s first Changing Places toilet facility, purpose-built to support people with severe and profound disabilities.

Changing Places are toilets with full-sized, height-adjustable change tables and hoists, with design requirements that go beyond those for standard accessible toilets.

Completed in early May, the Changing Places toilet at Wally Tew Reserve will support the inclusion of community members with severe disabilities who wish to participate in events and activities at the reserve and surrounding recreation precinct, including the Ferntree Gully Library, the Ferntree Gully Community Arts Centre, sporting reserves and the nearby accessible playground.

“Wally Tew Reserve was chosen as the site for the first Changing Places toilet, given it is the location of two of our city’s major festivals – Carols by Candlelight and the Knox Festival – as well as a busy sporting, entertainment and cultural space for the Knox community,” Mayor Jake Keogh said.

“Installing this facility is an important step towards ensuring that our public spaces are as inclusive as possible for all members of our community.”

There are plans to establish more Changing Places toilets in Knox in the future.

The State Government funded $100,000 of the project with Knox City Council paying the $80,000 balance.

The Changing Places initiative started in the UK in 2006 and was introduced in Australia in 2012. There are 89 facilities at major public spaces across Australia, including the MCG, Melbourne Zoo and Hamer Hall.