In a move that is being welcomed by those who feel it has a special place in Australian culture, the Australian government has officially changed the name of its public toilets to reflect the idea that people should not be forced to take public urination facilities.
The change in toilets is part of the Government’s commitment to ensure that all Australians feel safe and at ease in their public spaces, as the Government announced the policy change on Wednesday.
It comes after a national debate over public urinations sparked by the deaths of Sydney’s four teenage girls.
The four girls, who had urinated in their own private toilets, were found dead in January after their family refused to let them take a toilet break.
The Government has been struggling to find ways to reduce the number of people who take public toilets, and many say it is unfair to force people to go to the toilet if they don’t want to.
“This is about respect for each other,” said the ABC’s Julie O’Donoghue, reporting from Canberra.
“You don’t have to go in there and take a break from what you’re doing.”
The change has already seen a number of local authorities announce they will no longer provide public toilets for urination.
The Department of Education, Arts and Culture says that the change is not meant to be an excuse for public urinators to ignore their own hygiene rules.
In a statement, it said the name change was in line with “our national public health and safety commitments”.
“We recognise that it is important for people to take the time to make informed decisions about their own personal hygiene, including when it comes to urination,” the statement said.
A Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said the Government “believes that the name changes will enhance respect and privacy for all Australians”.
“The name change is an acknowledgement of the importance of the issue of public urinating and, as such, reflects a broader commitment to making our public spaces safe and comfortable for everyone,” the spokesperson said.
“The Government recognises that there are some people who choose to refuse to take a shower and some people with a health and wellbeing concern about taking a break, and so this name change reflects this.”
Public urination has long been a controversial topic in Australia.
The NSW Government has also introduced laws to outlaw urinating in public toilets and has had to intervene in some locales to enforce that law.
Some say the changing of the name would have the opposite effect, that urinating outside the toilet is a sign of disrespect.
However, other people are against the change, including Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who has been a vocal critic of the government’s public urinator policy.
Mr Kelly said he was “extremely disappointed” by the change.
“[It] will send out the wrong message to the vast majority of Australians who don’t take urination breaks that we have this big government policy about this,” he said.
“There is no real reason why people should be punished for doing it.”
Mr O’Connor, the ABC News political editor, said while the name is a “very nice one” it “wouldn’t make much of a difference to most Australians”.
“The fact that people are choosing to urinate in their homes or in their cars and not taking their shower is not a problem in Australia,” she said.