Building ministers from around Australia came together in August and adopted changes to the National Construction Code that will require all new homes to be built to new mandatory accessibility standards.
This means new homes in all states and territories – except NSW and WA who chose not to adopt the new standards – will be built with features such as a no-step entry into the home, a pathway from the street, minimum door width and walk-in showers.
While the LHA Silver standard that has been adopted is a fairly basic level of accessibility, it will make a huge difference to the lives of 3 million Australians living with mobility impairment, including people with disability and ageing Australians.
The decision to adopt these standards is a huge win after many years of advocacy from disability and ageing groups. Two years ago the Summer Foundation teamed up with Melbourne Disability Institute to join the push, and created the Building Better Homes campaign.
Building Better Homes brought together more than 70 organisations from the disability, ageing and housing sectors to lobby governments and industry.
A survey we did in 2021 as part of this advocacy work found that 3 out of every 4 Australians with mobility impairment were not living in houses that met their needs. That is millions of people who were forced to live in houses that restricted their lives, simply because not enough houses in Australia have accessibility features.
That will all change now, as more accessible homes are built across the country.