New Disability Access Requirements
16 March 2010 at 2:30 pm
The Rudd Government has launched the Disability Standards for Access to Premises, which for the first time sets the minimum access requirements for people with a disability to access public buildings.
The Standards cover features such as accessible lifts, stairs, ramps, toilets and corridors and include buildings such as office blocks, shops, hotels, motels, and common areas of new apartment buildings.
By requiring better access to buildings, the Standards will ensure that people with a disability can access employment, services and the community on an equal basis with other Australians.
The Standards will also provide greater certainty for business by providing for national consistency and reducing different regulatory arrangements. They will also provide the basis for improved arrangements for disability access in the Building Code of Australia.
The Disability Standards for Access to Premises will commence on 1 May 2011.
The Government has also agreed to undertake a review of the Standards within five years of their commencement.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, says the launch of the requirements is a significant step towards making buildings safer and more accessible for everyone.
Commissioner Innes says ensuring better access has to be seen as an investment in the future and every Australian will benefit from these improvements.
Once standards are approved by Parliament, Commissioner Innes expects work to proceed on making changes to building laws to ensure they reflect the new standards. It is expected that the standards will come into force in May 2011, a timeframe that gives industry and regulators time to fully understand the changes and prepare themselves to rigorously apply them.
Commissioner Innes says the tabling of the standards is an exciting development that would also make an important contribution to the government’s social inclusion agenda. He congratulated all those who had participated in their development, in particular the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, for their commitment to their finalisation.
The Disability Standards for Access to Premises and related documentation is available at: www.ag.gov.au