Safe Bathroom Checks

Safe Bathroom Checks is an initiative that determines the effectiveness of bathroom plumbing (health hardware) and whether bathroom facilities in Aboriginal communities are safe for people to wash in. The initiative supports the SAFE approach to reducing the incidence of trachoma, which considers surgery (S), antibiotics (A), facial cleanliness (F) and environmental health (E). Whilst surgery and antibiotic administration have had a significant impact on trachoma rates, facial cleanliness and environmental health interventions are now recognised for the important and fundamental role they play in disease prevention.

Safe Bathroom Checks

Safe Bathroom Checks are undertaken by Aboriginal environmental health practitioners in community households throughout Western Australia (WA). Assessments of bathrooms are being offered as a priority in communities where trachoma has been identified. The Department of Health is encouraging all its contracted environmental health providers to offer this service to every community, not just trachoma affected communities, where services are delivered on a regular basis. Each Safe Bathroom Check is undertaken using a formal checklist (Word 703KB).

The Safe Bathroom initiative runs in conjunction with the WA Country Health Service’s (WACHS) Squeaky Clean Kids program, which distributes free soap to communities at risk of trachoma, as well as promotes hygiene messages in local schools and the wider community. WACHS approaches each community to consider accepting the provision of free soap, but first requires each community to give their formal written consent.

What is the outcome of a Safe Bathroom Check?

Additional or replacement mirrors are placed at a height in bathrooms where young children can see their faces. Soap holders or soap socks are also provided to ensure soap is readily accessible in showers, and installation of towel hooks and rails encourages individual towel hanging and discourages shared towel usage. When a Safe Bathroom Check has been completed, a sticker (below) is placed between the hand basin and the mirror as a visual reminder of the importance of face and hand washing. 

Didya wash your face and hands sticker to remind people living in communities to wash their face and hands correctly to improve hygiene

In the event that emergency minor plumbing repairs (external site) are required, Aboriginal environmental health practitioners who have attained a Certificate II in Indigenous Environmental Health or a Certificate II in Population Health may undertake this work in eligible communities. Where plumbing repairs are required outside of this scope, the matter is referred to the appropriate housing management authority/agency to engage a licensed plumber. Referrals are followed up either on the next visit to community or separately with the responsible agency.

Safe Bathroom Checks evaluation

The Safe Bathroom Checks initiative is an example of successful preventative health care. It was rolled out mid-2017 and early evaluation efforts indicate that bathroom conditions are improving. Fixed faults are remaining fixed on later reinspection, and individuals are asking for soap, soap holders, mirrors, towels and towel rails. Safe Bathroom Checks have been formally endorsed by the Department of Communities (Housing). This inter-agency support has positively influenced the roll-out of the Safe Bathroom Checks across Western Australia.

More information

Aboriginal Environmental Health Program
Phone: (08) 9222 2000

Last reviewed: 08-03-2019