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    Draft Disability Discrimination Act 1992 tabled in the Australian Federal Parliament

    Australian Disabled Access Consultants

    Australian Disabled Access Consultants  reports that the “Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards 2010” under the Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 was tabled in the Australian Federal Parliament on 15 May 2010 for 15 sitting days that will be taken as being passed unless a Member of the Australian Parliament disagrees with any provisions when those particular matters will be debated until resolved.

    Once the Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 has been passed as Federal legislation, the BCA 2011 access standards will be changed to reflect those requirements. Following the passing of the Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 “Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards 2010” by Australian Federal Parliament the gazetted document will be referred to all Australian State and Federal Territory Building Boards for the amendments to be incorporated into the Building Code of Australia (BCA) 2011 that took effect on 1 May 2011.

    This means that the building industry can continue to use the new BCA 2011 and be confident that compliance will ensure compliance with the “Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010” and therefore, the Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992.

    The “Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010” took effect on 1 May 2011 and applies to new buildings and new parts of existing buildings being renovated or upgraded. The BCA 2011 will be revised at the same time to incorporate the Premises Standards for consistency between building standards and discrimination law in relation to the construction of buildings.

    The “Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010”:

    1. Clearly sets out the building access requirements to owners, developers and managers of buildings used by the public having to meet their obligations by complying with the Premises Standards to eliminate discrimination. 
    2. Aims to improve access to meet the DDA standards to ensure consistency with building law by changing the BCA 2011 access provisions to reflect what the “Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010”.
    The “Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010” comprises two parts. 
    • Part 1 sets out the Premises Standards legal requirements, identifies who is responsible for compliance, the operational date with broad exceptions and concessions. 
    • Part 2 is the Access Code setting out the access guidelines for specific types of buildings and building areas affected by the Code with references to Australian Standards for detailed technical information.
    Until May 2011 when the “Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010” becomes law, all real estate developers, building designers, builders and building certifiers should acquaint themselves with these new standards to ensure works during the interim period will comply to overcome potential legal problems caused by any non-compliances at the law commencement date.

    The Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 “Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards 2010” will require building owners, real estate developers, and building managers of buildings used by the public will have to meet the objectives of the Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 by complying with the Premises Standards. In the absence of these standards, people with disabilities and special needs, owners and developers can to continue to rely on the Disabilities Discrimination Act’s individual complaints mechanism of the Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992.

    Some of the major BCA 2011 changes will include design standards for:

    • Accessible building entrances and doorways
    • Circulation space sizes for elevator lifts, accessible toilets and doorways
    • Passageway passing and turning spaces
    • Hearing augmentation systems areas in rooms with an in-built PA system
    • Signage for accessible facilities
    • Elevator lift design and accessibility features
    • Cinema and theatres accessible spaces
    • Accessibility within new short term rental dwellings residential apartment complexes
    • New or refitted residential accommodation accessible facilities
    • Hotels and motels accessible dwellings
    • Public swimming pools access for pool perimeters greater than 40m
    • Unisex accessible toilets
    • Accessible ambulant toilet cubicles within standard toilets
    Existing buildings not being upgraded or renovated will still be covered by the existing Disabilities Discrimination Act 1992 complaints provisions as well as access issues not covered by the Premises Standards such as building fit-out design and construction work.

    Australian Disabled Access Consultants welcomes the Disability (Access to Premises- Buildings) Standards 2010 to improve disability access within all parts of the built environment and can assist with project designs and offer the following disabled access consultancy services:

    1. Disabled access project design advice to ensure compliance with disability access and wheelchair access design guidelines. 
    2. Drawing assessment at the end of the building design process to ensure compliance with disabled access and wheelchair access design guidelines prior to lodgement of the development application. 
    3. Disability accessibility assessment reports at the completion of the design drawings to certify compliance with disabled access and wheelchair access design guidelines for development applications and construction certificate applications. 
    4. Certify project design drawings comply with disabled access and wheelchair access design guidelines. 
    5. Disabled access audit inspections of new building works during construction stages and at the completion of building works to ensure compliance with disability access and wheelchair access guidelines. 
    6. Building Audit Inspection Reports for building work audit inspection to certify compliance with disabled access and wheelchair design guidelines, or identify details of non-complying building works that need to be corrected. 
    7. Disabled access audit inspections of existing buildings and provide action plans for works needed to be carried out with priority timetables for works.

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