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The Accessible Housing Options paper is a proposal to add accessibility requirements to the building code so that housing built in the future will be better suited for people with disabilities.

Whilst the forum did not guarantee these changes will be made, it served to explore the options available, and focused on the cost-benefit analysis. The report contains a cost comparison between including Livable housing features at the design phases and the costs of making those changes later on. The difference makes it clear that including accessible design when building a home is the obvious choice.

Currently, only 5% of Australian homes meet the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. While it’s great that the National Disability Strategy (NDS) aims to make it 100% by 2020, there is still a lot of work to do. For a population that is increasingly ageing, it’s important for all of society that we focus on making our homes accessible. The government can’t afford to keep funding residential nursing care, and funding for home modifications is already unsustainable for the amount of homes that require it. If more people are wanting to remain in their homes, we have to change the way homes are being built.

The National Construction Code (NCC) provides the minimum necessary requirements for safety and health, amenity and accessibility, and sustainability in the design, construction, performance and liveability of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) throughout Australia. These standards are developed these in line with the government’s strategic priorities. They are not obligated to regulate accessible housing and it is each state’s responsibility to enforce any accessibility standards should they be introduced into the NCC.

If you’re interested in providing your input, you can do so on the ABCB website until November 30th. Although the standards are a minimum requirement it’s important to advocate for accessibility.  Send an email here, or fill in the response here.  Whether you’re an Occupational Therapist, builder or a person who has lived in an inaccessible home, your feedback important in making homes accessible to all.

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