National Dialogue Agrees To Improve Accessible Housing Options

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27th October 2009, 09:38pm - Views: 538





People Feature Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary For Disabilities And Children's Services 1 image


Media Contact:      Ben Ruse

0407 030 808

Media Release



BILL SHORTEN MP

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services 

Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


National Dialogue Agrees to Improve Accessible Housing

Options


Participants in

a National Dialogue on Universal

Design

have agreed to work

together towards a national approach to promoting Universal Design

and to provide

Australians with a greater range of homes.


Universally Designed homes are those which include features which meet the

changing needs of occupants across their lifetimes, as they age or acquire a

disability.


Participants in today’s dialogue, convened by Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities

Bill Shorten

and

held

at Kirribilli House in Sydney, unanimously agreed that more

work was needed to make Universally Designed homes more available and to

educate the community about their benefits.


Mr Shorten said the agreement showed the strong support for the principles of

Universal Design and its role in making housing more accessible for people with

disability.


“I would like to thank all participants in today’s dialogue for their contributions, and

their desire to find a way to improve provision of Universally-Designed housing,” Mr

Shorten said


“People with disability face serious challenges when finding housing that meets their

needs.


“Universally Designed homes, which are built for the whole of the population to live in

for their whole lives, give people with disability greater independence and choice

about where they live.


“A lot of great work has been done in universal design, but the building industry and

governments need to work together to make this kind of

housing more widely

available.


“Today we began a much needed discussion, with some excellent ideas to tackle the

effects of the rising prevalence in disability, and Australia’s ageing population.”


Representatives at the forum included those from disability organisations, as well as

representatives from the building industry.


They were:



Amelia Starr;

National Convenor, Australian Network for Universal Housing

Design

People Feature Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary For Disabilities And Children's Services 2 image


Media Contact:      Ben Ruse

0407 030 808


Rhonda Galbally; Chair, National People with Disabilities and Carers Council


Ivan Donaldson; General Manager, Australian Building Codes Board


Graeme Inness; Race and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Australian

Human Rights Commission.


Michael Small; Senior Policy Officer, Disability Rights Unit, Australian Human

Rights Commission 


David Waldren; General Manager-Carlton Brewery, GROCON


Rod Fehring; CEO, Lend Lease Primelife


Mike Zorbas; General Manager Government Relations, Stockland


Ron Silberberg; Managing Director, Housing Industry Association


Peter Verwer; Chief Executive, Property Council of Australia


Wilhelm Harnisch; CEO, Master Builders Australia


David Parken; CEO, Australian Institute of Architects


Chris Lamont; Group Manager, FaHCSIA


Dougie Herd; Executive Director, Office of the Disability Council of NSW


Angela Jurjevic; Executive Director, Housing and Building Policy, DPCD

(Victoria)




Representatives

unanimously agreed

on the need to codify a national approach to

Universal Design which would incorporate:



The value of universal design to the community



A definition and a set of principles of ‘universal design’ 



What its features are in relation to housing.



The forum expressed a commitment to form a high-level working party to achieve

substantial progress within six months.


It was agreed that there is a need to work closely with industry and the community,

including around education and training. It is understood that all participants need to

be included and that change won’t be instantaneous.


As an aspirational goal, all new homes will be of agreed universal design standards

by 2020, with interim targets and earlier completion dates to be determined for some

standards.


Australian Bureau of Statistics research shows that between 1981 and 2003, the

number of people with a disability more than doubled from 1.9 million to 3.9 million.


The ABS estimates that the number of Australians with disabilities will continue to

increase through the first half of this century, due to the ageing of Australia's

population. 


Mr Shorten said he hoped builders and developers

would expand the

range of

Universally Designed houses and apartments in recognition of this growth.


“A few simple design features, such as a reinforced bathroom walls, and easy-to-

operate windows can make a home suitable for a person with a disability at minimal

cost.”


“For builders, that means their potential market is expanded.”


People Feature Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary For Disabilities And Children's Services 3 image


Media Contact:      Ben Ruse

0407 030 808

“Homebuyers today recognise that environmental sustainability is an important factor

in buying a new home.”


“We need to ensure that consumers become aware of the importance of ‘social

sustainability’ as well, and the advantages of having a home that can be easily

adapted as they age or if they acquire an impairment.”




The full statement of the forum is as follows:



There was a clear consensus about the critical nature of the issue of universal

design.


‘Universal’ means designing Australian homes to meet the changing needs of their

occupants across their lifetimes.


We all agree that we need to provide Australians with choice about housing design

and work harder to explain the benefits of universal design. In other words that

universal design is about making life easier for young families, people who have

short term injuries, as well as senior Australians and people with disability.


We agreed on the need to codify a national approach. This would incorporate:


1)      The value of universal design to the community


2)      A definition and a set of principles of ‘universal design’ 


3)      What its features are in relation to housing, of which there is already a fair

amount of recognised consensus.


We agreed it is important to have a national approach, in other words the code

should apply nationally to allow harmonisation across the country.


The code will deal with the minimal or basic solutions to design, through to more

aspirational features for homes. Essential elements on which consensus was

achieved are: wider doorways and passages; wet areas, such as bathrooms, on an

entry level; and reinforced bathroom walls to allow grab rails to be easily fitted in the

future.


More than 15,000 public and social housing dwellings are being built under the Rudd

Government’s economic stimulus plan that incorporate universal design features.

This will provide important feedback about universal design and lessons for the

future.


It was agreed that there is a need to work closely with industry and the community,

including around education and training. It is understood that all participants need to

be included and that change won’t be instantaneous. 


Everyone is committed to forming a high level working party to achieve substantial

progress in the next six months.


Part of the document to be developed by the group will be technical in nature and will

be accessible to designers, builders and consumers.


People Feature Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary For Disabilities And Children's Services 4 image


Media Contact:      Ben Ruse

0407 030 808

As an aspirational target, all new homes will be of agreed universal design standards

by 2020, with interim targets and earlier completion dates to be determined for some

standards.








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