Basic access features are now mandated in the latest edition of the Australian National Construction Code. This achievement took 20 years of dedicated advocacy for universal design in housing. This was achieved against the backdrop of strong housing industry lobbying for the status quo.
A paper presented at the International Universal Design Conference, UD2022, documents the achievements brought about by people power. It follows three previous papers and could, and should, be the last chapter. But that depends on ongoing political decisions.
While the features are mandatory, not all states are ready to adopt these changes. Also, the features are very basic and will not meet the needs of an ageing population. Hence, advocates continue their work.
At the end of my presentation at UD2022 in Italy, I had two questions that indicated disbelief that this could be for ALL housing – many thought it was just for social or special housing.Jane Bringolf
The conference paper has lessons for other jurisdictions and was written by Margaret Ward with input from Jane Bringolf. The title is, Universal design in housing in Australia: An example of people power. The paper is open access from the IOS Press website.
Or you can have a look at the slides in the short PPT presentation to get a quick overview.
Abstract: This paper follows three previous ones which have reflected on the grassroots campaign in Australia to mandate a basic access standard in all new housing. The original negotiations with government and the housing industry for this reform were at first disingenuous then reluctant despite human rights obligations.
A tenacious campaign over two decades by user stakeholders, researchers, and principled housing providers finally convinced political leaders to mandate national access provisions for all new housing in the National Construction Code. The paper discusses what assisted and hampered this campaign. It then discusses why politicians eventually favoured the interests of ordinary people over the self-interests of the housing industry.