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New Disability Standards for New Buildings in Australia

  • Published: 2010-07-13 : Author: Australian Disability News
  • Synopsis: Australian government wants all new homes to better accommodate senior citizens and people with disabilities.

The Federal Government will invest $1 million in a new set of disability friendly housing designs and building guidelines.

The Australian federal government wants all newly built homes in Australia to better accommodate senior citizens and people with disabilities.

However the requirements are not enforceable or extend to other buildings, as recommended by a federal parliamentary committee in 2009. The government will release a voluntary set of national building standards, aimed at improving the living standards of people with disabilities, including wider doorways, corridors and turning spaces for wheelchairs, as well as reinforced bathrooms.

The Federal Government will invest the $1 million over four years to drive a partnership with leaders of the construction and property sectors to promote the guidelines, which the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and Property Council of Australia have welcomed.

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities Bill Shorten said the guidelines won't put extra pressure on the cost of housing in Australia. "These are homes which are easier to live in, can be adapted more cheaply, and will be easier to sell." Mr Shorten hopes the standards will be adapted across the sector by 2020.

Property Council CEO Peter Verwer said the standards have "great potential for the future". "It has low costs and huge returns both for homeowners and the broader community," he said in a statement. In addition key industry groups including Master Builders Australia and the Property Council are keen to work towards the target.

However, a disability support group says the new building guidelines do not go far enough to improve living standards for the disabled. Therese Sands from People With Disability says the standards should be compulsory. "What we would hope is that during review processes there would be more effort to look at the feasibility to making them mandatory because in the long term we do believe they need to be mandatory," she said.

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