Ministers agree to change building code for better accessibility

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A NATIONAL meeting of building ministers on Friday (April 30) has agreed to reform to the National Construction Code, with all new homes built across Australia to include minimum accessibility standards.

Housing ACT tenant Dianne Corcoran demonstrates the difficulty she has getting out of her front door. Photo: Danielle Nohra

The majority of ministers agreed to include minimum accessibility standards for residential housing and apartments in the National Construction Code 2022 based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines silver standards.

ACT Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Rebecca Vassarotti said: “Modest but significant changes will mean housing built in the future will better meet needs. This is important not only for people with disabilities, mobility issues, or who are ageing. This reform is for all of us.

“This reform has come after the work of advocates over decades who have raised issues and highlighted the failure of housing stock to meet community needs. Progressive jurisdictions have come together to achieve this reform.

“Over the past 10 years we have tried voluntary guidelines, which have failed. Mandatory standards will result in significant and lasting benefit to Australians who need access to homes with accessible features.

“These are minimum standards but this is a start of a journey of ensuring universal design in all homes.

“We will ensure that industry is supported through these changes and I assure them there will be sufficient time between the introduction of these new standards, giving them time to prepare and adapt.”

Craig Wallace, ACTCOSS head of policy,said: The ACT has been a leader on this and came out early in support. It’s important to acknowledge the work of the late Sue Salthouse – we lead various campaigns together for universal design in Canberra since the 1990s.

“While the next steps are for the states and territories, this is a gamechanger and means that a lack of regulation can no longer be cited as an excuse for not getting on with the job of building homes that are adaptable and fit for purpose for the millions of Australians with disabilities and older people who need housing that can adjust to their needs.”

Housing tenant trapped in a wheelchair nightmare


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