Incontinence

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:44): I rise today to speak about incontinence and particularly male incontinence, and that will not be lost on the Hon. Mr Pangallo. But seriously, individuals afflicted by incontinence must carefully plan every outing to reduce the embarrassing moments when leakage unexpectedly occurs. In addition, they must factor in how much to drink before and during an outing and where to access the toilet to accommodate a bathroom schedule. In the event that no toilets are accessible, they may have to cancel their outing.

These are the daily issues tackled by individuals with incontinence. When we do not have to consider any of these aspects in our daily lives, we cannot grasp the impact that it has on those who do. While women's toilets often have general or sanitary bins installed, put yourself in the shoes of a man with incontinence. Added to the constant planning for daily living and social stigma surrounding incontinence, there is now the added burden, worry and embarrassment of having to find somewhere to dispose of an incontinence pad or pants. In a worst-case scenario, they have to carry around a disposable bag and wait until they can locate a bin within which to discreetly place their bag.

These issues were brought specifically to my attention in December last year by Julie Tucker from the Robinson Institute of the University of Adelaide. She alerted me to the work that had been done in the Town of Gawler in response to her representations to that council. The Gawler council mayor, Karen Redman, embraced the important nature of this issue and the council, as a result, have been installing bins in men's toilets in that town.

Mayor Redman said that as a senior nurse and as the mayor of the town, she was approached about the importance of providing men's incontinence bins in public amenities in the town and that has proceeded through the council. I understand that the Gawler council is the first local government body in Australia to provide this service.

As a result of Julie Tucker making representations to me, we brought these matters to the attention of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, who was also very interested in the work that she was doing. I am pleased to indicate to the council that, as a result of that, the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network have acted not only upon the minister's interest but also, obviously, the particular representations from Ms Tucker. Only a few weeks ago, they indicated, and I quote from the media release from SA Health:

We have now installed incontinence disposal bins in men's public toilets at the Lyell McEwin Hospital and Modbury Hospital to help men feel supported and provide them with proper disposal facilities.

This is a step in the right direction to reduce the stigma surrounding men's incontinence and to help improve the confidence of sufferers, encourage them to seek help and feel supported in the community.

When I first had discussions with Ms Tucker and also the mayor we spoke about how confidence or lack of confidence impacts on mental health. I think that people who suffer from incontinence certainly have an extraordinary lack of confidence in the way they go about their daily tasks and the things they do on an everyday basis. Any effort that we can make through government and through local councils to at least instil a greater confidence about that everyday life is to be commended.

I commend Ms Tucker for her campaign and will continue to support her efforts in that regard. Finally, I was pleased to see a sign in one of the Gawler men's toilets recently—quite a prominent one—which says, 'This toilet is fitted with incontinence bins.' Thank you.