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

Page last updated: 12 January 2012

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

From 1 July 2010, the Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) replaced the current Continence Aids Assistance Scheme (CAAS). The 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.

For more information about the Continence Aids Payment Scheme including answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) visit

National Continence Program

The Australian Government continues to support the prevention and management of incontinence through the National Continence Program (NCP). The Program commenced on 1 January 2011.

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 Program will continue successful core activities of the NCMS and address areas of further opportunity.

The overall aim of the Program 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 Program are guided by its strategic framework.
The Department of Health and Ageing has developed the National Continence Program Action Plan 2010-14 which articulates the principles and objectives of the Program, while providing a high-level map for Program activities.
Visit for more information.

Continence Publications

A key awareness raising activity of the NCMS is 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 by following this link

    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. Visit

    National Public Toilet Map

    This 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.