Proposal to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code

Consultation Regulation Impact Statement
Barrier-free design Housing for people with disability Building codes Accessibility Australia

In 2017, the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF), with the support of COAG, directed the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to undertake a regulatory impact analysis into the possible inclusion of accessibility requirements for housing (Class 1a buildings and Class 2 apartments) into the NCC. The analysis commenced in 2017-18 with the ABCB undertaking extensive research, consultation and technical analysis, which are outlined in the Consultation section of this paper.

The Centre for International Economics (CIE) were recently engaged by the ABCB to develop a Consultation RIS. In line with the direction of the BMF, the regulatory options assessed by the Consultation RIS are based on the Livable Housing Design Guidelines (LHDG) Silver- and Gold-level specifications, as well as a ‘Gold-plus’ specification developed through stakeholder consultation.

Finding suitable accommodation is important to all Australians and is a prerequisite for a happy, stable and dignified life. There is evidence that people with disability and older Australians have trouble finding housing that meets their needs. 

Based on 2018 data (from the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers — SDAC), there are around 2.9 million Australians with a mobility-related disability.

Extrapolating from ABS population projections, we estimate this will increase to around 4.7 million people over the next 40 years, due to population growth and an ageing population.

That said, responses to questions in the SDAC suggest that the housing needs of many people with a mobility-related disability are already being met.

There are a significant number of policies in place to either subsidise, directly provide or encourage private provision of housing that meets the needs of people with disability and older people. Key policies to ensure that people with disability and older people have access to housing that meets their needs include:

  • funding home modifications and other support services (through the NDIS and various aged care policies) to support people with mobility limitations to stay in their own home
  • funding for residential aged care places
  • planning policies put in place by some state and local governments to encourage private provision of accessible housing
  • provision of accessible social and community housing.

Despite these policies and other services available, we have identified a range of potential societal costs that could be (at least partly) avoided through increased provision of accessible housing. This includes the community’s preference for equitable outcomes for all members of the community.

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