By 2060, it is estimated that over 5 million Australians will have a mobility impairment¹. Australia also has an ageing population who are keen to live in their own homes as long as possible, but there is not enough accessible housing to meet the future needs of the population.

Australia has a long and proud history of implementing reforms that benefit all Australians through universal and innovative approaches to social policy. This includes Medicare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and now reform to the housing industry to ensure all new homes are built to mandatory liveable and accessibility standards, as outlined in the 2022 National Construction Code.

Governments across Australia have recognised that for all Australians to live a good life, all new homes should meet liveable and accessible standards to increase the number of homes that are fit for purpose. All states and territories have signed on to the accessibility standards except NSW and WA.

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

The sector understands the importance of accessibility features in new homes

The research found the design and construction sector understands the importance of accessibility features in new homes and recognise it is an important equity issue for all Australians.

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


The design and construction sector said accessible building design is achievable.

“I think builders, if they realise it’s not that hard, and they can get a really great outcome for their clients, I think they’ll be on board with it.” – Architect³ 

“Reputable designers and developers know that there are solutions to these problems” – Building developer4


To implement the new mandatory accessibility standards, they said they need practical and easy to implement support from governments, their industry bodies and suppliers, and they want a national and supported approach.

Practical solutions are needed to assist the design and construction sector

A coordinated approach

Research respondents spoke about the implementation transition as a collaborative process, with all stakeholders having a role to play and the need for a regulatory body overseeing implementation

“I think we all need to play a part, don’t we?  But I don’t know exactly who’s going to – who’s going to manage it, but it would be good if there was one regulatory body who were going to manage I guess those types of releases or improvements or whatever it may be.” – Builder5

Respondents recommended whole of government and industry responsibility for the oversight of the implementation of minimum accessible standards by

  • A central body overseeing implementation across all stakeholders such as architects, builders, suppliers and professionals working in the sector
  • Engagement by all stakeholders to ensure industry relevance
  • An industry-specific approach to education and training of relevant stakeholders 
  • Mainstream marketing of, and education on accessible design across the broader community to raise awareness


Practical support

Aligned with the functionality of a central body to oversee the implementation of the new  standards, the sector recommended the development and sharing of resources to support the upskilling of all stakeholders. 

“There’s still a knowledge gap – and not just of what it is but of how to do it and then I think that you’re going to need to sort of have an education across all of the disciplines from the structural engineers, the earthworks – earthworks contractor, you know, and right through, and the architects so that – so that we’ve got that sort of nestling in until it becomes best practice learning, you know, and business as usual.” – Building developer6


Design and construction professionals recommended developing and disseminating consistent, practical, and accessible resources containing industry-relevant information, including: 

  • Lists of compliant products and suppliers

“Products that are useful and appropriate, having those on the suppliers’ website very prominently, so that they come up on your first screen” – Architect7


  • Case study exemplars of accessible design, including drawings and templates (e.g. CAD blocks) 

“There’s a clear role for the design and building professions to participate in the development of case studies and examples about how different types of impairment can be accommodated in a way that is cost-effective, in a way that is [effective] in terms of meeting a need, and in a way that potentially solves other problems as well in the process.” – Building developer8


  • Workshops, professional development opportunities, and ‘how to’ materials 

“Little things that are easy, like YouTube clips on how to… you know, install a step free shower, level threshold shower. How to position the toilet in a room, you know, just little things like that, preferably not too dry.” – Architect9

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 CIE (2021). Proposal to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code: Decision regulation impact statement. Centre for International Economics. https://www.abcb.gov.au/sites/default/files/resources/2021/Final%20Decision%20RIS%20accessible%20housing_PDF.pdf

² 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)

³ ibid, p. 15

4 ibid, p. 15

5 ibid, p. 21

6 ibid, p. 21

7 ibid, p. 21

8 ibid, p. 22

9 ibid, p. 22