Yesterday, residential building leaders agreed that all new homes will be built to disability-friendly Livable Housing Design standards by 2020. The standards ensure that homes can be adapted to meet the changing needs of residents over their lifetime.
Achieving this standard would become increasingly important as Australia’s population ages and disability becomes more common. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) research shows that between 1981 and 2003, the number of people with a disability more than doubled from 1.9 million to 3.9 million. The ABS estimates that the number of Australians with disabilities will continue to increase through the first half of this century, due to the ageing of Australia's population.
“These are homes which are easier to live in, can be adapted more cheaply, and will be easier to sell,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities Bill Shorten. “Livable Housing Design means a home meets the needs of all people, including people with disability and older Australians. Families with young children, anyone who suffers a temporary injury, or who has a friend with disability, will also benefit from Livable Housing Design.
A few simple design features, such as reinforced bathroom walls, a flat entry to the house and wide corridors and doorways can make a home suitable for an older person or a person with disability at minimal cost, according to Shorten. A Livable house can give a person with disability or an older person a life of independence and dignity, and improve their chance of employment and involvement with the community.
The guidelines will also apply consumers seeking to introduce universal design features into a new home and could be applied when renovated an existing home.