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Can I still use Section 10 of the Victorian Building Act to get out of providing access for people with disabilities?

  • February 20, 2014
  • Bruce Bromley

As of 1 May 2011, new building works must comply with the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 (Premises Standards).

Where a building permit is applied for on, or after, 1 May 2011, and to meet the obligations under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), building designers, developers and building practitioners are required to ensure that building work, complies with the Premises Standards. Where a building does not comply with the Premises Standards, a complaint can be made against all relevant parties to the Australian Human Rights Commission relating to discrimination against people with disabilities, including the property owner, developer, builder and building surveyor.

The Victorian Building Authority advises that if using the transitional provisions of Section 10, Building Act 1993, the Relevant Building Surveyor and the applicant would be acting unlawfully under the DDA. Refer to the Practice Note 2011-14  for further information.

http://www.vba.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/21077/PN-14-2014-Access-to-Buildings-for-People-with-a-Disability.pdf

It must be understood that any commonwealth legislation takes precedence over state legislation where there is a discrepancy. As such, there are times when compliance may be possible with the state legislation however, a complaint may still be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission in certain circumstances.  Therefore caution must be taken by all parties involved in the design and certification of any new buildings.