Continuation-accessible housing discussion
Continuation- accessible housing discussion
We're not asking for much!
A few weeks ago in our blog, we wrote an article about the long road to achieving universal accessible housing (25.05.2019, “Are we there yet mum?”). In that blog post, we wrote about a candidate in the federal election, who had a physical disability, who couldn’t actually find an accessible home in her Queensland electorate, so was forced to live outside of her electorate, which became a bit of an issue during the election.
Happily, the conversation and the advocacy over the matter of universal accessibility of housing, continues. This week some advocates have spoken out because they’re frustrated that the latest National Construction Code (NCC) did not adopt mandatory accessibility regulations. If you’re wondering what that is - the National Construction Code outlines ‘the minimum necessary requirements for safety and health, amenity and accessibility, and sustainability, in the design, construction, performance and livability of new buildings (and new building work in existing buildings) throughout Australia’
At the end of this post, we’ve reproduced a full news report outlining the views of the advocates.
Why is this topic so important?
The team at Gong Life Care Solutions talks to many older people and people with disabilities in the course of our work. We supply unique equipment to assist people to manage in the course of their activities of daily living. Items such as the Relaxa-Bathlift, the KMINA Indoor Rollator/wheely walker, and the Aquabuddy Home shower in bed system (mobile shower trolley), an improvement on shower trolleys for the home situation. We are so aware that most people begin to think about home modifications to improve accessibility when a family member becomes elderly and frail, sick, or acquires a disability, and the home is seen in a new light – it is not “liveable”, as is. How much better would it be if homes were all easily adaptable or already accessible?
Sounds like common sense? Good planning? Many people and advocacy groups think so!
The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design states that greater accessibility is easily achieved if included at the design stage, and that an increased supply of accessible mainstream housing is critical to the success of both the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Aged Care Reforms.
Their formal position statement is as follows:
Australia must regulate in the National Construction Code for access features in all new and extensively modified housing.
Livable Housing Australia (LHA) is a partnership between community and consumer groups, government and industry. They promote the Livable Housing Guidelines, which have been developed by industry and the community, to champion the need for homes to be easier to access, navigate and live in, as well more cost effective to adapt when life’s circumstances change. They see the beneficiaries of liveable, adaptable, accessible homes as being: Families with young children, people who sustain a temporary injury, ageing baby boomers (a fast-growing segment of the Australian population) and people with a disability and their families.
The Livable Housing Design Guidelines were created to provide a nationally consistent, inexpensive and practical set of guidelines to make homes safer, more comfortable and easier to access for people of all ages and abilities. You can download a free copy of the Guidelines from the homepage of LHA http://livablehousingaustralia.org.au
Kylie Knight, a spokeswoman from the Shoalhaven (NSW) Council's Disability Advisory Committee has stated that accessible housing is not just about making a (home) wheelchair accessible, but also ensuring that all people, including the elderly and parents with prams, have affordable accessible housing.
Livable and Adaptable
On the Australian Government’s Your Home website, they define the concepts “liveable house” and “adaptable house”, as well as “accessible house” as follows:
- Livable house — designed to meet the changing needs of most home occupants throughout their lifetime without the need for specialisation
- Adaptable house — adopts the idea of a livable house but in addition is able to be easily adapted to become an accessible house if the need should arise
- Accessible house — designed to meet the needs of people requiring higher level access from the outset, and usually designed and built with a specific person’s needs in mind. An accessible house meets Australian Standard AS 1428.1-2001, Design for access and mobility, and is able to accommodate wheelchair users in all areas of the dwelling.
To the Gong Life Care team, it seems so little to ask for – mandatory Australian regulations to help everyone to be able to live in a home that suits their needs in terms of access and mobility. But in answering our own question from the recent May blog post….. Are we there yet mum? Well, no, not yet. But let’s keep talking about it.
See video demonstrations on our website, of innovative products to enhance and assist with elderly care in the home. We are also a registered NDIS supplier. https://gonglcs.com.au
Or call us if you would like to enquire about the KMINA Indoor Rollator, the Relaxa-Bathlift, Aquabuddy Home shower in bed system (mobile shower trolley), or any other product on our website.
ABC News article
Disability advocates slam lack of accessible housing in push for universal standards
By Jessica Clifford
Posted Mon at 5:06 pm
Disability advocates have renewed their push for local councils nationwide to ensure that new housing is universally accessible to address what they describe as a critical shortage of accommodation.
- The latest National Construction Code
- Disability advocates say some people have waited years for accessible housing
- The need for accessible housing extends to all people, including the elderly and parents with prams
Melinda Montgomery, a disability advocate who lives with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), has had more than 100 broken bones and requires a wheelchair to move around.
Because of the wheelchair, Ms Montgomery's home requires wider hallways, a larger shower and lower bench-tops and light switches.
But she said even finding a remotely level home with no steps could be difficult.
"It was quite disheartening because real estates weren't interested in doing modifications.
"I thought about applying for public housing, but the waiting list was years and years.
"Even then, some people like me are on the waiting list for quite some time and then they get there and find the house is not accessible at all."
Ms Montgomery said she finally secured a home suited to her needs because her doctor was building new apartments in her hometown of Dapto and agreed to build them with her in mind.
Accessibility not mandatory
The latest National Construction Code was released in May, but no mandatory accessibility regulations were adopted.
While some councils are taking matters into their own hands, such as Brisbane (which offers a rebate for developers to make new houses and apartments universally accessible), others have not followed suit. The City of Sydney provides guidelines to developers and is generating a housing plan that will feature accessible housing.
"The supply of accessible and adaptable housing in the inner city is a key issue for the community," a spokesperson said.
"With an ageing population and approximately 20 per cent of Australians living with disability, the need for universally designed, accessible and adaptable housing is expected to grow."
The council, however, does not have mandatory provisions to ensure homes are universally accessible to a high standard.
'We're not asking for much'
Guidelines developed by Liveable Housing Australia, a group that helps drive industry best practice, state that as growing numbers of baby boomers choose to stay in their own homes, there will be a greater need for more age-friendly accommodation.
Kylie Knight from the Shoalhaven Council's Disability Advisory Committee said councils needed to step up and ensure new homes, particularly medium-density buildings, were more accessible.
The committee recommended earlier this year that all medium-density housing have a platinum level of accessibility, however it was voted down by the council.
Mrs Knight said it was not just about making an apartment wheelchair accessible, but also ensuring that all people, including the elderly and parents with prams, had affordable accessible housing.
We are not accommodating people who need a little bit more access," she said.
"I would like to see council revisit this and take the lead of councils like Brisbane, which are trying to get every new building to meet a gold standard.
"It's much more expensive to retrospectively fit them, and those costs are going to be worn by people who have the least ability to pay for them."
Ms Montgomery agreed that more needed to be done to ensure there was an adequate amount of affordable accessible housing for anyone who needed it.
"There's such a shortage for people to get into housing, so if we could just put laws in place, it would improve things immensely," she said.
"It's honestly surprising in 2019 how unaware people are of the simple needs of someone with a disability.
"We're not asking for much, we just want to be able to contribute to society and contribute in life and have the same opportunities everyone else has." http://www.yourhome.gov.au/housing/livable-and-adaptable-house
- Australian Building Codes Board, https://ncc.abcb.gov.au/ncc-online/About
- The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design, https://anuhd.org
- Livable Housing Australia, http://livablehousingaustralia.org.au/59/about-lha.aspx
- Quoted in ABC news article Disability advocates slam lack of accessible housing in push for universal standards, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-08/disability-advocates-slam-lack-of-accessible-housing/11283494
- Australian Government http://www.yourhome.gov.au/housing/livable-and-adaptable-house
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