Building standards go up for disabled

  • December 10, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

Public buildings in Australia may have to comply with new standards for access by people with disabilities if a draft policy for improvement is adopted by Australian Governments.

The Commonwealth used the recent International Day of Persons with a Disability to table new draft standards, saying they would be mirrored in the Building Code of Australia.

Attorney General, Robert McClelland, said the standards would help provide better access to new and upgraded public buildings for people with a disability by making it clearer what was required to avoid discrimination.

He said mirroring the standard requirements in the Building Code of Australia would reduce complexity by aligning building and discrimination laws. 

Mr McClelland said the Government believed access to public and commercial buildings for all members of society was critical for achieving social inclusion. 

“These initiatives will have a positive impact on the daily lives of people with a disability – providing better access to premises such as shops, Government offices and hotels,�? he said.

“It will make their rights clearer and more certain.�?

The proposed Premises Standards addressed access issues such as signage, circulation space in lifts and accessible toilets, the number of wheelchair spaces in theatres and the use of tactile warning indicators on stairways and ramps.

Minister for Innovation, Senator Kim Carr, said harmonising the access requirements and the Building Code of Australia would provide people with a disability with greater access to public and certainty for the building industry.

Senator Carr said the Government intended to refer the draft Standards to the House of Representatives’ Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for final public consultation, before it made its report in the first half of 2009.