Under the National Construction Code (NCC) 2022, all new housing will be required to meet minimum accessibility standards.
This includes at least 1 step-free entrance, wider internal doors and corridors and a toilet at ground level or entry level.
State and federal building ministers last month agreed to include minimum accessibility standards to Livable Housing Design Guidelines Silver Level in the NCC from September 2022.
The Summer Foundation was one of the 70-strong group of peak bodies and agencies that worked together to secure this result as part of the Building Better Homes campaign.
More than 17,000 people signed the BHH petition calling for the change to the NCC.
CEO Dr Di Winkler said it was a landmark decision that will improve housing accessibility in Australia for decades to come.
It is an important step in the right direction but further work is needed to implement these new standards and ensure they are applied consistently and appropriately across Australia, she said.
In the lead up to the building ministers’ meeting the Summer Foundation and La Trobe University conducted national surveys of people with mobility impairment and occupational therapists (OTs) about housing accessibility features.
The OTs study found that more than 40% of clients had a delayed discharge from hospital as they waited for home modifications to be completed. This resulted in each person spending an extra 20 days in hospital – at an estimated cost of between $1.7 billion and $3.2 billion a year.
Ministers took into consideration the feedback from industry, advocates and the lived experience of members of the community affected by the lack of accessible housing, according to the communique released after the meeting.
“The decision …. reflects their assessment that a regulatory solution will result in significant and lasting benefit to Australians who need access to homes with accessible features,” it said.