Story by Dan Nathan

Builders of new housing may be forced for the first time to meet access standards for people who use wheelchairs, under revisions to the National Construction Code released for public comment this month.

The result is a big win for the Building Better Homes campaign, a coalition of groups who have argued that existing voluntary accessibility standards have been too often ignored.

The inclusion of mandatory minimum standards in the draft 2022 code follows a favourable majority vote from federal, state and territory building ministers at a meeting in April. The public comment period ends in July, and it is expected the code will come into force in September next year. 

It is up to state governments to decide when and how to enforce compliance with the national code.

The 2022 code’s minimum standards are based on the Silver standard for which builders can currently seek accreditation under Liveable Housing Australia voluntary guidelines. Silver is the most basic level; the others are Gold and Platinum.

It requires:

  • A continuous and step-free path from the street or car park, and at least one step-free entrance to the dwelling.
  • Minimum widths for entrance doors, passages and halls.
  • Toilet on ground-level, with spatial requirements.
  • A shower with step-free entry.
  • Reinforcement of walls to toilets, baths and shower for future installation of grab rails.

Building Better Homes has argued that only 5 per cent of new homes built in Australia comply with Liveable Housing Australia guidelines. Australians living with mobility impairment make up 12 per cent of the population – a figure set to grow as our population ages.

  • May 20, 2021

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