THE federal public service is moving towards gender neutral bathrooms in its Canberra offices, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
The push is reportedly an effort to better include and accommodate trans and intersex employees.
“Toilets that are specifically reserved as gender neutral are not part of the scope of work for the Treasury building refit that is currently underway,” said a spokesperson for the Australian Public Service Commission.
“However, toilets that are accessible for any individual are in scope.”
The new bathrooms are understood to be intended for anyone requiring private facilities, which could include employees with issues such as anxiety, as well as trans people.
A staffer from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the issue of gender neutral bathrooms “does come up from time to time”, but the department had elected not to pursue changes because its offices already have bathrooms “designed to be suitable for use by all, which benefits population groups who identify themselves outside the boundaries of the male/female descriptor”.
Conservative senator Eric Abetz called the new unisex bathrooms “political correctness overdrive”.
“Most Australians would expect the Treasury of all departments to focus on bringing down the debt, not finding creative ways of increasing expenditure within its own department,” said Abetz.
“Understandably, many men and women would feel uncomfortable sharing facilities in a work setting with the opposite gender.”
Greens senator Janet Rice, whose wife is trans, called for the public service to introduce more gender neutral bathrooms.
“It’s a really important measure to be supporting gender diverse people,” she said.
“It’s about catering for everyone and making them feel comfortable at work.”