Lizzie Hunter
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Changes to accessibility housing standards still unresolved

Further evidence is needed to justify any regulatory changes to the National Construction Code when it comes to accessible housing. Speaking at the Australian Building Codes Board’s Accessible Housing National Consultation forum in Sydney, ABCB senior project officer, Kieran O’Donnell said there has to be an identified need for change to happen. “And we are trying to figure out what that need is.”

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The national forums that took place this month provided an opportunity for the community to have their say on the ABCB’s Accessible Housing Options Paper. Released in September, it provided a preliminary menu of options and costings on the possible inclusion of a minimum accessibility standard for housing in the National Construction Code (NCC).

The release of the paper followed calls from designers, researchers, people with disability and seniors for the government to introduce regulations mandating that new houses meet accessibility standards.

O’Donnell told delegates attending the forum that the ABCB is looking at the level of unmet need for accessibility features within housing, rather than saying there’s a problem with including those features.

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“There are a few different figures as to how that unmet need is quantified,” he said. “One figure we will use at this stage of the process came from Liveable Housing Australia where it was estimated around 5 per cent of housing that was being constructed complied with their guidelines.

“While that’s not a large figure, it’s worth noting that it does not mean that the other 95 per cent of houses are inaccessible. It simply means that within that 95 per cent, there is a portion of people who have made their own arrangements; another that will be supported through the NDIS and other programs or schemes; and finally those where the occupants have been unable to find housing appropriate to their needs, and these are the people we are looking to address through this project.

“We need further evidence and information if we’re going to be able to justify advising a regulatory change to the National Construction Code.”

O’Donnell invited delegates to provide feedback on the ABCB Options Paper. “We don’t have all the answers but we are interested to hear your views and learn from your experiences to help inform how we take this project forward.”

The deadline for sending feedback is November 30, 2018. Email to: NCCawareness@abcb.gov.au with ‘Accessible Housing’ in the subject line.