New research conducted by the Summer Foundation and La Trobe University investigated what support the design and construction sector needs to implement the mandatory minimum accessibility standards.

Builders, developers, architects and access consultants identified what practical support they need from governments and their industry bodies to successfully implement the mandatory liveable and accessibility standards as outlined in the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC).

The research identified what design and construction professionals value when  building new homes to accessibility standards.

Building momentum for accessible housing

The research found the long-term campaign was successful in building momentum around  having accessibility standards for new homes introduced. 

“I’ve kind of lived and breathed this whole debate, which has incorporated all legislating a level of minimum accessibility to the Building Code across those 30 years. So, to get where we’ve got to now is a big achievement, but I’m really glad you’re undertaking this project, because the challenge now is getting the industry to embrace what the Building Code says.” – Builder¹

Participants in the research noted there was an increasing awareness of accessible design and because of this earlier foundational work there was a preparedness for the sector to move from voluntary to mandatory accessibility standards for new builds.

Accessibility is for everyone

The shift in perspective to valuing accessible design for all people was welcomed by each of the participants in the research. Participants spoke about how terminology is evolving, with a shift towards seeing accessible housing relevant for all people at all stages of life, and not just an issue for people with disability.

“Well, actually this stuff [accessible design] is really to do with, you know, when you’ve got the pram. Or when you’ve got, you know, suitcases or when you’ve done your knee at football.” – Architect² 

Some participants spoke passionately about the relationship between accessible design and equitable access to housing.

Accessible design was aligned with good practice and accessibility challenges could be addressed by creative and innovative practices.

What’s next

Informed by this research, governments and industry bodies need to work to support the design and construction industry to implement the mandatory accessibility requirements for new homes, with a  joined up cross-industry approach.

  • All Australian governments commit to:
    • National adoption of the standards, through Western Australia and New South Wales signing up to the standards
    • Measuring the impact of the reforms on the supply of accessible housing and the benefits for consumers

¹ Liddicoat, S., Winkler, D., D’Cruz, K., Wellecke, C., Mulherin, P., & Douglas, J. (2024). Supporting the design and construction sector to transition to minimum accessible standards in new homes: A qualitative study.  Summer Foundation. p. 14

² ibid, p. 14