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
- Commission resources on the DDA and access to premises:
- Other Australian resources
- US Access Board guidelines
- Sites in other countries
- Accessible and adaptable housing
- Children's play areas
- Accessible pedestrian environments
- Text of the Standards and background material (Attorney-General's Department site)
- Commission Guidelines on the Standards: MS Word format or PDF format
- Commission FAQ on the Standards
- Webcast of Commission / ABCB seminar on the Standards . Also available: Powerpoint slides from webcast: Part 1 (PPT) | Part 2 (large file 6MB PPT)
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 http://www.humanrights.gov.au/disability_rights/standards/PSguide.html
To obtain a copy of the Premises Standards, a copy can be downloaded at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2010L00668
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.
- Archive documents on the Background and history of development of the standards
- Guidelines on access to buildings and services ( Updated April 2008)
- "The good, the bad and the ugly: design and construction for access" (Updated 2008) : photographs and commentary providing examples of some good design and construction features of buildings and services - and some not so good! If you come across other examples please forward an electronic copy to email@example.com
- Advisory Note on streetscape, public outdoor areas, fixtures, fittings and furniture in PDF and click here for Word
- Brief guide: the ins and outs of access
- Frequently asked questions n access to premsies
- Missed business: a brief guide to access issues for small business (Produced with Marrickville Council)
- Accessible events: A guide for organisers (PDF) (External link: Meetings Events Australia)
- Tactile signage and wayfinding: comment on coverage in draft premises standard (December 2003)
- Advice on local government liability for permitting inaccessible development (10 July 2001)
- The Commission also considers questions about access to and use of premises when it deals with formal complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act. See the Commission s decision in Cooper v. Holiday Coast Cinema Centres Pty Ltd and the explanatory note about a related case and the responsibilities of local government.
- Comment on VCAT decision in Wellington Street PL v Monash CC  VCAT 295 (20 February 2004)
- Aspects of the law are sometimes clarified when the President of the Commission decides to terminate investigating a complaint. A selection of termination decisions on access to premises are now available
- Summaries of conciliated outcomes in complaints on access issues are also available.
- Most Disability Discrimination Act Action Plans address access to and use of premises. A list of plans lodged with the Commission is presented in our Action Plan Register.
- Australian Building Codes Board. The Board's site provides a number of important documents that describe changes to the Building Code that will improve access for people with disabilities.
- Standards Australia is the peak standards writing body in Australia. Its work on technical specifications is central to the reform of the Building Code.
- Association of Consultants in Access : site includes directory of access consultants.
- Australian Local Government Association including links to local government sites around Australia and Accessible Communities publication RTF or PDF (large file 23.6 MB)
- Access awareness booklets from Access Audits Australia : range of handbooks available for order including checklists and audit resources
- W.A. Disability Service Commission access resource kit with checklists
- Australian Federation of Disability Organisations accessible events guide (MS Word)
- Municipal Association of Victoria access and mobility page
- " Better physical access": Commonwealth Office of Disability publication
- Designing buildings for people who are blind or vision impaired : Vision Australia
- Improving access to heritage buildings : Australian Heritage Commission
- Hotel and Motel Association of Australia code of practice on hearing access; and hotels with captions guide
- Accessible Sydney portal
- accessibility.com.au : News and information site on accessibility issues including Access guides for Sydney | Melbourne | Brisbane |
- Other on line access guides: Brisbane | Sydney - see also Sydney WebMaps including access maps and Perth access map
- QADT decision in Cocks v Queensland (Convention Centre case)
- QADT decision on access to common areas: C v A (September 2005) (decision under Qld AntiDiscrimination Act
- QADT opinion on local government imposing access conditions additional to the Building Code
- QADT opinion re unjustifiable hardship and guesthouse access
- QADT opinion re non-discriminatory theatre fitout
- Australia for all accessible tourism page
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.
- Access Board Guidance on Accessible Rights-of-Way
- "Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access" : Federal Highway Administration . ( See also the Commission's FaQ on the DDA and footpath use" )
- Videos on footpath access: These short videos provide practical information on some of the key access barriers people with a disability face when using the footpath. Some of the technical requirements referred to may not be the same as required in Australia but they provide a useful reference for those responsible for footpaths.
Accessible Recreation Facilities
- ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Facilities
- Accessible Amusement Rides
- Accessible Boating Facilities
- Accessible Fishing Piers and Platforms
- Accessible Miniature Golf Courses
- Accessible Golf Courses
- Accessible Sports Facilities
- Accessible Swimming Pools and Spas
- Recommendations for Accessible Trails, Picnic and Camping Areas, and Beach Access Routes
- Resources on disaster preparedness
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.
- UK Centre for Accessible Environments
- Centre for Universal Design
- Trace Research and Development Centre
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.
- Liveable Housing Australia website
- Victorian Government consultation on visitable and adaptable housing features (December 2009)
- Summary of outcomes and participants at Kirribilli House meeting on 27 October 2009
- Design ideas for accessible homes : Victorian Building Commission
- Landcom NSW Universal Housing Design Guidelines (PDF)
- Australian Human Rights Commission submission to VBC/ABCB consultation on accessible housing May 2005
- Australian Network for Universal housing Design
- SMARTA Housing accessible housing education and information
- Body corporate responsibilities: Open letter from Commissioner Innes
- National Centre for boundless playgrounds
- Developing Accessible Play Space: a Good Practice Guide, Office of the Prime Minister UK (2003)
- The Good Play Space guide: "I can play too", Sport and Recreation Victoria (2007)
- Sport and Recreation Victoria Public consultation on accessible play areas (MS Word doc)
- ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas
- Guide on Accessible Guidelines for Play Areas
- Can play will play (PDF): UK National Playing Fields Association
Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practice : US Transportation Research Board