As a way of acknowledging the diversity of Auckland Council's staff and visitors and their individual needs, and ensuring council offices are a safe and welcoming space for everyone, the council is looking into a pilot programme to introduce ‘all-access’ restrooms.
An all-access restroom is one that is sign posted for use by everyone, including men, women, people who identify as intersex, transgender or transsexual, people with an assist dog, people who are disabled, or have varying accessibility needs, and people with babies and small children.
John O’Brien, Manager Corporate Property says: “At the moment council staff offices have dedicated restrooms for men and for women, and accessible restrooms that are signposted with a wheelchair symbol. We think there’s an opportunity to update the accessible restrooms to be inclusive of all people with varying needs.”
The council will be seeking input from the Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel, the Disability Advisory Panel and the Seniors Advisory Panel on a proposed pilot programme to update the signage on 35 accessible restrooms in two city centre council offices to all-access signage.
O’Brien says the advisory panels, which represent the many diverse communities within Auckland and advise the council on matters of importance to those communities, are well placed to provide initial feedback on the proposed programme.
“We are starting by talking to the Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel with regard to the needs of intersex, transgender and transsexual people. The challenges faced by this group on a matter as fundamental as using a restroom in a public space are widely documented. The council is interested in hearing more about these challenges from the Panel,” he says.
The Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel will be presented with the proposal on Monday 30 November. The proposal will be discussed at the Disability Advisory Panel in December, and the Seniors Advisory Panel in the New Year.
Where will the programme be rolled out?
The proposed pilot programme would include 35 Auckland Council office restrooms in total; 26 in the 135 Albert Street city centre office, and nine in the Bledisloe House city centre office.
The proposed programme is for signage only, so no structural changes to the restrooms will be required.
If the pilot programme goes ahead, its success will be assessed before any decision is made to roll the programme out further.