Page last updated: 08 September 2015

Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine or faeces at an inappropriate time or place, the International Continence Society (ICS), 2005.

Incontinence is a significant health issue affecting children, women and men of all ages. It can have physical, social, quality of life, and economic implications for the individuals, their carers and the community.

The Australian Government supports people affected by incontinence, their family and carers, health professionals and the general public through two major programs.

Continence Aids Payment Scheme

The Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) is an Australian Government payment that assists eligible people, who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the cost of their continence products. It is a direct payment administered by Medicare, to clients providing flexibility and choice about where and when they purchase their continence products.

Visit the Bladder and Bowel website for more information about the CAPS including answers to frequently asked questions.

National Continence Program

The Australian Government supports the prevention and management of incontinence through the National Continence Program (NCP).

The NCP builds on the substantial achievements developed by the activities previously undertaken under the National Continence Management Strategy (NCMS) - 1998 to 2010. The direction of the program is a culmination of Australian Government policy direction, stakeholder input and the findings of the Independent Evaluation. The NCP will continue successful core activities of the NCMS and address areas of further opportunity.

The overall aim of the NCP is to improve awareness, prevention and management of incontinence so that more Australians and their carers can live and participate in the community with confidence and dignity. The direction of activities funded under the NCP are guided by its strategic framework.

The Department of Health has developed the National Continence Program Action Plan 2010-14 which articulates the principles and objectives of the NCP, while providing a high-level map for program activities.

Visit the Bladder and Bowel website for more information.

Publications and Resources

Through the NCMS, a key awareness raising activity was the development of bladder and bowel health information resources for the consumer, carer and health professional. The range of resources includes booklets and brochures, CDs and DVDs, posters and flipcharts.

Some of the major resources available include:

  • Specialist Set Brochures – This series of 17 brochures covers topics such as, prolapse, pelvic floor exercises for men and women, good bladder and bowel habits, childhood bedwetting and how to identify if you have a bladder or bowel problem. These brochures are also available in 20 different languages.
  • Indigenous Brochures – Similar to the Specialist Set, a series of brochures has been developed covering a range of topics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Bowel Resources - A number of bowel resources are available for people who have undergone bowel surgery, have a spinal cord injury and for people wanting to learn about looking after their bowel.
  • Urinary Incontinence Resources – A number of resources are available for the consumer and health professional with information relevant to living with urinary incontinence.

The extensive range of resources is available in hard copy by calling the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 or resources can be downloaded from the Bladder and Bowel website.

Bladder and Bowel Health Website

The Bladder and Bowel Health website is a dedicated site promoting bladder and bowel health for consumers, health professionals, service providers, researchers and others.

Detailed information about projects funded through the NCP is available along with access to the range of information resources developed by the NCP.

National Public Toilet Map

The National Public Toilet Map website shows the location of over 16,000 toilet facilities available to the public across Australia. Toilets can be identified at particular locations and along travel routes. Useful information is provided about each toilet, such as location, opening hours, availability of baby change rooms, accessibility for people with disabilities and the details of other nearby toilets.

The Toilet Map offers trip planning functions, downloading of GPS coordinates, and large maps with pan and zoom functions. In addition, toilet locations can be easily accessed on mobile phones and an iPhone application, providing people with a simple and quick way of finding a toilet while they are out and about.