There are several disability standards and other regulatory mechanisms in Australia that fall under the Disability Discrimination Act (1992), each created for a specific role and function.
With both national and state standards impacting accessibility within society, it can be difficult to understand what standards are responsible for what, and what should change within these to improve life for those living with a disability or high support needs.
The Premises Standards is one of these standards. For Changing Places users, the current review is an opportunity for Changing Places to become part of the suite of accessible facilities across Australia.
From a community perspective, the Disability (Access to Premises – Building) Standards 2010 (the Premises Standards) aims to provide people living with a disability with dignified and equitable access to buildings.
From a legal sense, Schedule 1 of the Premises Standards, known as the Access Code, sets the requirements and technical specification that a building certifier, building manager or building developer is required to comply with to avoid access related discrimination.
Importantly, this Access Code is then replicated in the National Construction Code (NCC), which is enforced through state and territory building laws and regulations.
The Australian Government reviews the Premises Standards every five years.
Currently, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is reviewing the standards that came into effect in 2016.
As part of the consultation, a discovery phase was included welcoming stakeholders’ experience with the Premises Standards.
Key themes that were identified from the 160 responses included were:
- Consistency and clarity
- Building access and egress
- Toilet and change room provisions
- Communication and wayfinding and environmental sensitivities.
So, what does this mean for Changing Places?
A Departmental Representative explains that being able to review standards is an opportunity for the community to highlight any problems that they experience as a result of the standards and propose solutions to amend these.
“Each of these disability standards and other regulatory mechanisms has a specific role and function. The disability standards are reviewed and amended at different times that create gaps or inconsistencies between those standards.
“The second consultation stage seeks to identify the gaps and strategies to make Premises Standards and National Construction Code consistent across Australia.”
While the review closed to new submissions at the end of April, the Department encourages people to provide feedback in-between reviews. A report will be released later in the year with improvements to the Premises Standards.
For more information, or to get in contact with the Department, find more details here.