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New laws improve access to public buildings

Disability Standards for Access to Premises come into effect in May 2011. The Premises Standards and changes to the Building Codes Act will introduce new access requirements, and significantly improve existing standards.

For the first time, the law sets minimum access requirements for people with a disability to publicly accessible buildings. This will bring far-reaching improvements to public building access in our community. Anne Burgess, Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, welcomes the new standards, saying: “These changes are going to markedly increase the number of public places accessible to people with disabilities. And this will help allow people to participate in public life, who might have previously found it difficult.”

These new standards will apply to any new public buildings or existing building upgrades when an application for building approval is made after 1 May 2011.

There are several resources available to inform the public and help building professionals. A free webcast of a seminar on Premises Standards can be found here, or through the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Copies of the Premises Standards, an Explanatory Statement and FAQs can be viewed and downloaded here.

There are also South Australian laws giving people with disability the right to enter premises and use facilities that are open to the public. You can find a summary of these laws here.

For more information, please contact Stephen Lawrence on 8207 2271.

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