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Parliamentary report supports better building access for people with a disability

  • June 16, 2009
  • Bruce Bromley

Report on Draft Premises Standards released

The House Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has recommended that the draft Premises Standards be finalised and introduced without delay in a report tabled in Parliament last night.

The Committee Chair Mark Dreyfus said, “Although there is still some way to go, the Committee supports the Premises Standards as a significant milestone on the path to equal access. The benefits of the Premises Standards would be widespread, immediate and real. The Committee also expects the Premises Standards to provide intangible benefits such as dignity, social inclusion and respect.”

The Committee’s key recommendation is for the common areas of Class 2 buildings (such as residential apartment buildings) to be included within the scope of the Standards. 

“It is clear that the market has not responded to the needs of people with a disability or to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, even where Class 2 buildings are primarily used for short-term accommodation.  As a result, people with a disability are excluded from an affordable accommodation option which might otherwise be well suited for their needs,” Mr Dreyfus said.

The Committee also recommended changes to Class 1b buildings, such as bed and breakfast type accommodation, provisions; the inclusion of a reference to ‘dignity’ in the objects of the Standards; and, a thorough review process to be completed within 5 years of the commencement of the Standards.

The draft Premises Standards are intended to make public buildings more accessible for people with mobility, vision and hearing impairments. If introduced, the Premises Standards will have a widespread impact, changing building regulations for all new buildings and existing buildings undergoing significant upgrades.

In addition to providing better access to buildings, the Premises Standards are also intended to provide certainty to building certifiers, developers and managers that they are complying with their obligations under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act.
An electronic version of the report, accessible by screen readers, is available on the Committee website: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/laca/disabilitystandards/report.htm  .

An interview with the chair of the LACA committee Mark Dreyfus QC about the various recommendations made is available via the Video On Demand link on www.aph.gov.au/ath parliamentary website and will also be able to be downloaded as an audio clip later this morning.

For interview:
Contact the Committee Chair, Mr Mark Dreyfus QC, MP on (02) 6277 4305 (Canberra) or in his electorate on (03) 9769 1955. Or Mr Dreyfus’ media adviser, Tim Lisle-Williams on 0431 178 280.