Ministers reach accord on accessible housing standards

Federal and state Building Ministers have agreed that the National Construction Code 2022 will include minimum accessibility provisions for housing.

The Ministers, who met last week, said the provisions for residential housing and apartments will be based on the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) silver standards.

This will mean all new homes will have to include:

  • A step-free entrance door;
  • Wider internal doorways to allow wheelchairs; and
  • A toilet at the entry-level.

While acknowledging the costs identified in the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), the Ministers said a regulatory solution will result in “a significant and lasting benefit” for people needing homes with accessible features.

In their communique, Ministers also agreed the ABCB will publish a voluntary gold technical standard for accessible housing.

“This outcome supports the states and territories with their responsibilities to increase the stock of accessible housing and provides flexibility for jurisdictions to implement in a way that best meets the needs of their communities,” they said.

In related news, Monash University’s Urban Lab has published a report exploring adaptable housing for people with disabilities in Australia.

The Australian Human Rights Commission commissioned the report in line with Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Ben Gauntlett’s long-term goal to increase access to accessible housing for Australians with disabilities.

The report considers design-informed approaches and new innovations to adapting, retrofitting, or fabricating existing homes to improve accessibility for people with disabilities who are capable of independent living or assisted independent living.