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Disability advocates welcome new housing accessibility standards

Disability advocates at peak disability organisation People with Disability Australia have welcomed confirmation from the Building Ministers’ Forum silver-level accessibility standards for all new and extensively modified housing from September next year.

PWDA chief executive officer Sebastian Zagarella said the disabled people’s organisation was pleased the disability community’s lobbying had paid off.

“Australia’s new housing accessibility standards in the National Construction Code are a win for people with disability,” Mr Zagarella said.

“At People with Disability Australia we’ve long advocated for minimum accessibility standards in residential housing.

“It’s great to see that advocacy pay off so in future more people with disability can live in homes that suit them and meet their accessibility needs.

“We hope the Australian Building Codes Board’s new standards will eventually make people’s search for a new home much easier, allowing us to participate in our communities more by having accessible housing where we want them.”

The membership organisation for people with disability and their representative organisations played a key role in the disability community’s campaign for more liveable, accessible housing.

PWDA auspiced the influential Australian Network on Universal Housing Design, and alongside our colleagues in the disability, aged care and universal design sectors, have lobbied for minimum accessibility standards for over a decade.

On Friday, the Building Ministers’ Forum confirmed silver-level accessibility standards, based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards, will become a minimum standard in the National Construction Code next year.

Gold standard on the horizon

PWDA had pushed for a gold accessibility standard to be applied but welcomed the introduction of a silver standard.

Mr Zagarella said a silver standard was still a win for people with disability, especially given how hard parts the housing industry had fought reform.

Gold-standard accessibility is still a possibility for Australia’s states and territories.

“States and territories can progressively upgrade to the gold-level standard over time,” Mr Zagarella said.

“We want to see as many housing projects as possible meet gold standard, and we looking forward to working with state and territory governments who would include gold-level standards in their jurisdiction.”

A technical referral pathway will be put in place so the various jurisdictions can upgrade over time to a gold-level standard for housing.

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