Access to Premises

Access to Premises

Section 23 of the Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability in providing access to or use of premises that the public can enter or use.

For new building approvals or upgrades from May 2011 on, there are more specific Premises Standards (see below for more information).

Building access issues also arise under other DDA provisions including in relation to employment, access to services, and accommodation.

Disability standards on access to premises

From 1 May 2011, any new building open to the public, or existing buildings undergoing significant renovation, are required to comply with the Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings Standards 2010. The Standards clarify how to ensure buildings are accessible to people with disability and meet the requirements of discrimination law. 

Over time, the Premises Standards will ensure that buildings in Australia become more accessible, and more useful to an ageing population. More accessible buildings will assist in achieving equal participation for people with disability in employment, education, access to services, and other areas of participation in economic, social and cultural life. 

The development of the Premises Standards involved more than 10 years of extensive consultation and negotiation.

While the Australian Human Rights Commission has produced a number of guidelines and other related information on access in the built environment the Commission does not have the resources or expertise to provide technical advice on the development, design, construction, certification or management of buildings to which the Premises Standards apply.

For further information about how to better understand the application and content of the Premises Standards, please see the Australian Human Rights Commission’s publication Guideline on the Application of the Premises Standards which can be found at

To obtain a copy of the Premises Standards, a copy can be downloaded at

Technical compliance questions can be directed to suitably qualified and experienced professionals in the design, construction and certification area such as an architect, building surveyor or Local Government Building Certifier. State and territory building control administration bodies may be able to provide assistance with technical compliance questions.

Other Commission resources

Other Australian resources

US Access Board guidelines

The US Access Board site provides access to the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and other documents including guidance material on accessible sidewalks and public rights of way, accessible recreation facilities such as golf courses, sports facilities, beaches and camping areas and guidelines for accessible play areas. While the Guidelines are issued by reference to the US legislation rather than the DDA, reference to these Guidelines may assist when designing and constructing facilities.


Accessible Recreation Facilities

Sites in other countries

Work to improving access to premises in Australia benefits from knowledge of the latest developments around the world. The following sites are all important sources of information.

Accessible and adaptable housing

The DDA does not cover housing issues as comprehensively as it covers access to public premises, but does apply in some situations including public housing. The Commission is involved in efforts to achieve clearer standards and ensure housing is available which is accessible or at least adaptable in future to meet access needs.

Children's play areas

Accessible pedestrian environments

Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practice : US Transportation Research Board