4 September, 2015 - National Handwashing Day: ‘Handwashing? Australia, you’re doing it wrong!’
Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart is available for grabs, quotes, interviews, etc. We can also demonstrate for the cameras how Australians should wash their hands properly in a Melbourne location or studio. Please ring Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.
Plan will also be demonstrating how to wash hands properly at a media and public event at 10.30am at Southbank on Friday, September 4. See separate media alert for details or contact Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945.

Every day, Australians run the risk of spreading potentially dangerous germs and viruses simply because they are not washing their hands properly, says child rights organisation Plan International Australia as it declares today (Friday, September 4) the nation’s inaugural National Handwashing Day.

Plan International has taught millions of children across the developing world how to avoid the spread of viruses and diseases, and now it’s the turn of Australians to learn how they should be washing their hands. To get this simple but crucial message across, Plan has decided to declare today to be Australia’s National Handwashing Day.

“Many Australians will be thinking that quickly running their fingers under the tap on their way out of the loo is perfectly sufficient when it comes to washing their hands. Well, we’re here to tell you: ‘Australia, you’re doing it wrong!’,” says Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart.

“Every day, we help another child in the developing world learn how to wash their hands properly. And if a child can do it, then so can anyone else – and they should, whether it’s in the developing world or here in Australia,” Wishart says.

“Plan International has helped thousands of children across the developing world learn how to wash their hands properly, and we do that for good reasons. Handwashing is the single most cost-effective health intervention – it actually has the potential to save more lives than any single vaccine,” he adds.

“Washing your hands properly – and I really mean properly – is actually pretty simple when you know how, and it can combat some common but nasty viruses getting a hold of you and making life pretty unpleasant. I’m talking about things like gastroenteritis, flu and common colds – all of which be prevented with the help of effective handwashing.”

“So how do you properly wash your hands? There are seven simple steps starting with rubbing your palms together, rubbing the back of both your hands and then interlacing your fingers and rubbing your hands together. Then you lock your fingers and rub the back of them with both hands, rub your thumbs between your index finger and thumb on both hands, rub your fingertips on your palms and finally rub both wrists,” Wishart says.

Plan International Australia has designed a ‘print-out-and-keep’ mini-poster for people to download, print out and put up in their homes and workplaces. To download the poster, visit plan.org.au/handwashing.

“It might sound complicated but, actually, it’s pretty simple and takes only a few seconds longer than running your hands under the tap. But for that few seconds more, you’re going a long way to guard yourself from a variety of viruses, germs and bacteria.”

“The simplest way to remember the right way to wash your hands is to download our mini-poster and stick it up next to wherever you and your family or you and your workmates wash your hands. That way, every day can be National Handwashing Day and we can halt the spread of viruses and germs.”

“Handwashing with soap at critical moments is a crucial component in preventing the spread of some of the most debilitating and deadly diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, and even Ebola. Because of this, we at Plan International place a great emphasis on handwashing in our work around the world.”

“We have even been involved in setting the world record for handwashing when 52,970 people all washed their hands at once in Bangladesh!”

Editors’ notes:

Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 77 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.