Justice, Opportunity and Shared Wealth for all South Australians

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It's time to make new housing more accessible

SACOSS is glad to be part of the Building Better Homes Campaign, a coalition of over 50 organisations representing Australian seniors, people with disabilities and the health, allied health, social and housing sectors.

What is the Building Better Homes Campaign?

The Campaign wants the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC) to include minimum accessibility standards, to help make new housing more accessible. The proposed changes will enable our ageing population to remain in their own home as long as possible and address the housing needs of people with disability.

A 2020 survey of people with mobility impairment found that 73.6% of respondents were living in housing that does not meet their needs.

Why now?

In around a month’s time, Building Ministers from around the country will meet to decide on what our housing will look like for decades to come. For the estimated 3 million Australians with mobility issues, this is a crucial moment impacting their current and future housing needs. Building Ministers will choose between the status quo of a voluntary approach, or the mandatory accessibility standards in the 2022 National Construction Code (NCC). Voluntary guidelines have been with us for over a decade, and have failed to deliver. But a mandatory approach will future-proof Australia’s housing for coming generations, especially as our population ages. 

Over 80% of older Australians aged over 55 want to live in their own home as they age.

Including mandatory accessible design standards in the NCC is regarded by some as being expensive and catering to a niche market. But future-proofing Australia’s housing means preempting demand by tweaking designs for new homes now. Housing is critical social infrastructure that is with us for decades, so it is vital to get it right. The Building Ministers meeting in the next month is the culmination of a 3 year process. If the building code is not changed then we will continue to build housing that is not fit for an ageing population for at least another decade.

Progress to date

35 organisations recently sent a joint letter to Australia’s political leaders calling for the mandatory accessibility standards to be incorporated in the NCC. Prominent campaign ambassadors include paralympic gold-medallist Kurt Fearnley, author Jackie French, former politician Mary Wooldrige, and comedian Tim Ferguson.

An online petition to send to Building Ministers is fast approaching 12,000 signatures. The Building Better Homes campaign has had a range of media coverage in The Guardian and on the ABC. Ben Gauntlett, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, supports changes to the NCC and recently wrote in The Age that accessible housing is not only a human rights issue, but also an economic one, given the billions of dollars in savings governments can make by allowing more Australians to ‘age in place’, at home. He points out that:  

We do not need generations of royal commissions that cost more than a new hospital to repeatedly tell us that it is cheaper, safer and better for people to live in circumstances where they are surrounded by family and friends.

How you can help

  1. Take action by signing the petition, emailing Building Ministers, and contacting your local MP
  2. Share Building Better Homes Campaign Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter posts/tweets with your personal and professional networks on social media
  3. Complete and/or share the survey of people with mobility limitations
  4. Complete and/or share the survey of occupational therapists
Published Date: 
Wednesday, 3 March 2021