Common language for social sustainability

Front cover of the Property Council report. A child is doing cartwheels in a park“Our built environment has always shaped the lives of people … it is also a powerful force for positive social change.” This is the opening statement in the Foreword of a Property Council of Australia handbook. It goes on to say the property industry is in a powerful position “to do well by doing good”.

The handbook, A common language for social sustainability, provides definitions and context of social sustainability and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It reminds us that investors are increasingly making financial decisions based on social responsibility. Consequently, this aspect of business should not be ignored. Sustainability now goes beyond economics and the environment. 

The handbook covers five key areas and uses examples to explain how social sustainability applies to: 

    • Culture and community
    • Health and wellbeing
    • Mobility and access
    • Equity and fair trade
    • Economic outcomes

The mobility and access section has this to say,

The ability of everyone to access, use and benefit from all aspects within their environment. The goal of accessibility is to create an inclusive society
for all people, regardless of their physical, mobility, visual, auditory or cognitive abilities.
The national Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. Disability discrimination occurs when people with a disability are treated less fairly than people without a disability, or when people are treated less fairly because they are relatives, friends, carers, co-workers or associates of a person with a disability.
A voluntary partnership between community and consumer groups, government and industry that champions the mainstream adoption of inclusive design principles in all new homes built in Australia.
Developed by LHA, these guidelines outline the design elements that ensure a home is easy to access, navigate and live in, as well as more cost-effective to adapt when life’s circumstances change. Three levels of certification – Silver, Gold and Platinum – indicate how a home meets the needs of all Australians, from older people looking to age in place to families with young children, and from people who sustain a temporary injury to those with a permanent disability.
The design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.


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