ABCB Project

Who said what to the CRPD Committee about Australia’s lack of accessible housing

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by State Parties. The CRPD Committee provided a List of Issues for Australia.  With respect to the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design’s Strategic Plan and their 2020 target as a commitment within the 2010-2020 National Disability Strategy, they asked:
“Please provide information on efforts to ensure an adequate supply of accessible housing and on whether the 2020 targets for universal housing design are being met?” (Issue 11)
 
Report from the Australian Government
In February 2011, COAG agreed to an aspirational target within the ND Strategy that all new homes meet agreed universal accessibility design standards by 2020.  State and territory governments have made progress towards increasing the stock of universal and accessible housing, particularly in relation to public and social housing. For example, the Northern Territory (NT) Department of Housing and Community Development’s Urban Public Housing Design Guidelines require all new urban public housing to meet the silver level rating under the Guidelines*
In October 2017, the BMF instructed the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to undertake a national Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the inclusion of minimum accessibility standards for housing in the NCC, in consultation with Disability Ministers. *The report cites the least populated area in Australia, which built less 88 public housing dwellings in 2016-7, as an example of their progress to date. 
 
Report from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
The AHRC remains concerned that the 2020 targets for universal housing design will not be met. The use of voluntary measures to increase the supply of accessible private housing have been ineffective.
A regulatory intervention is needed to introduce a mandatory minimum standard of accessibility for all private dwellings in Australia. An amendment of the National Construction Code (NCC) is the most viable way to introduce this standard.
The Australian Building Codes Board (ACBC) is undertaking a Regulatory Impact Assessment of options to introduce a minimum accessibility standard for housing in the NCC. The AHRC comhas recommended that the ABCB be guided by Australia’s commitments under the CRPD in considering the minimum standard of accessibility for housing.
Ongoing consultations should also be held with people with disability and their representative organisations.
The AHRC recommended that:
The Australian Government introduce a mandatory minimum standard of accessibility in the National Construction Code for all private dwellings in Australia.
 
Australian Civil Society Report
(The perspective of people with disability in relation to Australia’s compliance withits obligations under the CRPD)
There are no mandated national access requirements for housing.
The Livable Housing Design Guidelines provide aspirational targets for all new homes to be of an agreed liveable housing desig standard by 2020. It is estimated that only 5% of new housing construction will meet the standards by 2020.
Regulatory intervention through the National Construction Code is required to achieve change. The Shadow report recommended that:
Australia amend the National Construction Code to mandate minimum access features for all new and extensively modified housing.

What is happening now

In direct response to our advocacy to the Building Ministers Forum, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is undertaking Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) of options for potential minimum accessibility standards for housing, to be applied through the NCC. Called the Accessible Housing Project, it includes any housing that has features to enable use by people either with a disability or through their life stages. The RIA will consider the Livable Housing Design Guidelines Silver and Gold level specifications as possible options for a minimum accessibility standard, and additional options identified through consultation.

Options Paper Consultation Report

The Options were outlined in the ABCB’s Options Paper and was accompanied by a national consultation last year. The result of that consultation is now available in the Options Paper Consultation Report.

RIS Update–August 2019

RIS tender is now closed.Tenders to undertake the RIS have now closed and the ABCB is reviewing submissions to identify a suitable consultant.

Technical review of the draft NCC provisions is now underway.The ABCB have developed draft provisions with a technical review being undertaken by members of the ABCB’s Building Codes Committee and other experts.

The Consultation RIS is expected to be available for public comment in the first half of 2020.The RIS process continues post-consultation, leading to a Final (or ‘Decision’) RIS that takes into account comments on the Consultation RIS and is provided to governments to assist them in deciding whether or not to proceed with regulation (i.e. a change to the NCC). 

Proposed changes to NCC will be available for public comment in 2021 If, after considering the Final RIS, governments decide to make a change to the NCC, the proposed change will appear in the NCC public comment draft in 2021.

Government approved changes will be in the NCC in May 2022
Although the National Disability Strategy committed to all new housing with an agreed universal design standard, the changes will not come into effect until the next review of the NCC in May 2022.

You can check out the key dates and releases of the Accessible Housing Project on the ABCB website.