People with disability could soon have better access to public buildings. It follows the government’s response to a review of the Premises Standards setting out reforms to improve their effectiveness and clarity. This is in addition to new measures to assist with their application and evaluation by government and industry.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Senator Arthur Sinodinos said the Review process, conducted last year in consultation with the Attorney-General George Brandis, showed that the Standards had led to improvements in disability access.

Since the Standards were introduced in 2011 there has been improvements in providing people with disability with dignified, equitable, cost effective and reasonably achievable access to public buildings, Senator Sinodinos said. “However, the government acknowledges the need for improved clarity of the Standards themselves, as well as greater awareness of the education and training materials available to ensure they are being applied effectively.”

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy said engagement with industry would be important to promote the improved standards. “Through the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF), we will encourage the building and construction industry to utilise the Australian Human Rights Commission’s detailed guidelines on the application of the Premises Standards, as well as promoting the Australian Building Codes Board’s comprehensive, free training material for the industry,” he said.

Put into effect on May 1, 2011, the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 is a legislative instrument made under section 31 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The legislation requires that every five years the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, in consultation with the Attorney-General, must review the effectiveness of the Premises Standards in achieving their objectives and identify any amendments. The first review has shown that the Premises Standards have had a positive impact and are a sound basis for further action.

“I’m confident that these proposed actions in response to the review will improve the provision of equitable and dignified access to public premises for people with disability,” Senator Sinodinos said.

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