On Friday 30th April, there was a major development in ensuring people with disability have access to housing that meets their needs across Australia.
A majority of Commonwealth, state and territory Building Ministers agreed to include mandatory accessibility standards in the National Construction Code (NCC).
From September 2022, the NCC will include regulations to ensure that all residential housing and apartments comply with the Silver Level of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) will also publish a voluntary technical standard outlining Gold Level standards for accessible housing.
In November last year, our Policy and Advocacy team heard from people with spinal and neuro conditions and their family members about the significant barriers they faced in finding accessible and affordable housing.
Those waiting for expensive home modifications or those aged over 65 with disability, who are ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), are often permanently or temporarily forced into residential aged care facilities, where staff lack expertise in spinal and neuro care.
As well as this, people with disabilities seeking accessible social housing are facing years-long delays, and people seeking to rent or buy on the private market have struggled to find properties that meet their needs in areas that they hope to live in. This can severely restrict people’s independence, employment opportunities and participation in the community.
Housing was in the top five advocacy issues survey respondents were most concerned with. As such, housing is one of three of our priority areas in our Systemic Advocacy Strategy 2021 – 2023.
In addition to our focus on accessible housing as part of our Strategy, earlier this year, SCIA joined the Building Better Homes Campaign, a coalition of peak disability bodies and agencies tirelessly advocating for the inclusion of mandatory minimum accessibility standards within the NCC.
Advocacy for reform of the NCC to include Silver Level compliance has been ongoing for over a decade. It is a major step forward, but there is still work to be done. It is now up to each state and territory to decide whether and how the new regulations will be applied. SCIA and our partners will continue to push all states and territories to implement the changes and advocate for states, territories and local councils to mandate compliance with the Gold Level.
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