MEDIA RELEASE: Housing crisis by design

More than three quarters of Australians with mobility issues cannot find housing that meets their needs – and it’s a growing problem as our population ages, especially in regional and remote locations.

Rockhampton local, Des Ryan has first-hand experience of housing accessibility challenges. “The only way I was able to secure housing that was affordable and met my disability needs was to build it from scratch” Des said.

Luckily, my parents were prepared to financially support me doing this. However, not all people with disability are able to build a home and face ongoing, housing accessibility challenges”.

“My accessible home gave me the launchpad to achieve a wonderful life – working in employment I enjoy, having a great range of friends and getting out and about in the community.”

New research by La Trobe University and the Summer Foundation has found that many access issues could be easily and inexpensively fixed at the housing design stage.

This research adds to growing calls for the inclusion of mandatory accessibility standards in the National Construction Code – to future proof Australian housing.

The evidence-based research found that many features that make housing accessible for seniors and people with disability would be virtually cost-neutral, and they are cost-effective when designed into new houses, apartments and townhouses.

A coalition of more than 70 peak organisations have formed the Building Better Homes (BBH) Campaign, to call for mandatory accessibility standards in the National Construction Code.

A meeting of Commonwealth, state and Territory Building Ministers in late April will consider whether to make accessibility standards mandatory.

BBH Campaign Director, Alistair Webster, says the Ministers have a once in a generation opportunity to change the lives of millions of Australians.

‘Mandatory minimum accessibility standards in the National Construction Code will future-proof Australian housing for generations to come,’ Mr Webster said.

‘This reform will change the lives of millions of Australians – including people with disabilities and older Australians who simply can’t find housing that meets their needs. Many of these people are currently limited inter day to day activities because their housing isn’t suitable.’

‘Design elements such as wider hallways and doorways would vastly increase their housing options. It would also ensure that big reforms like the NDIS and Aged Care reforms can be fully realised.’

‘We urge governments across Australia not to let this opportunity slip by.’

Media contact:

BBH Campaign: Alistair Webster, 0499 760 777