A peak disability organisation is campaigning against the NSW State Government for its accessible housing strategy.
“Imagine, for a moment, if you couldn’t use parts of your home, or worse yet, your home was actively dangerous for you to live in,” Physical Disability Council NSW CEO, Serena Ovens told F2L. “That’s the reality for one million people with physical disability in this state.”
The Australian Building and Construction Board has incorporated minimum accessibility guidelines into the National Construction Code, which sets out national standards across all builds. The guidelines include features such as wider hallways and door frames, hob-less shower recesses, larger bathrooms and level access to at least one entry.
Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT have all committed to incorporating the accessibility standards across into their jurisdictions. However, the same is not being done in New South Wales.
The NSW Government will actively opt out of these sections of the Code, instead developing an agreed evidence base for the benefits of Universal Design to meet the diverse needs of households.
Ovens said she is concerned for the lives of those with a disability and for the wider community, who would benefit from these changes as they grow older.
“These people have been living in dangerous, inconvenient homes for years, even decades. Getting by on patch-job renovations until they accept the inevitable and transition into supported accommodation. At times their disabilities are acquired suddenly and then they are stuck, sometimes for several months, in a hospital ward because there are no suitable houses available,” she said.
According to Ovens if the guidelines are not adopted now, it could take a decade to be in line with other states.
“Each year we delay implementing this means fewer accessible housing available when needed and less stock for people with physical disability who need it now.
“The simple solution for increasing accessible housing across the NSW housing market and future proofing our future in our homes is to mandate it by adopting the National Construction Code provisions in our state. That, or we should all be buying shares in nursing homes,” she said.