More guidance for businesses and builders in satisfying the
requirements under anti-discrimination laws
On 1 May 2011, the Disability (Access to Premises –
Buildings) Standards 2010 (Standards) came into effect and were
incorporated into the Building Code of Australia 2006 (BCA). The
Standards have been established to harmonise the BCA with the
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
(DDA) to give guidance to businesses and builders
to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws when designing
and constructing buildings.
The purpose of the Standards
The purpose of the Standards is to:
ensure that dignified, equitable, cost-effective and reasonably
achievable access to buildings, and facilities and services within
buildings, is provided for people with a disability
give certainty to building certifiers, developers and managers
as to their obligations under the DDA.
Compliance with the Standards
The Standards create the Access Code for Buildings (Access Code)
which will be incorporated into the BCA.
The Access Code sets out the general "performance
requirements" relating to:
hearing augmentation systems
design and installation of Braille and tactile signage
accessible water entry/exit for swimming pools
the provision of sanitary facilities
requirements for public transport buildings.
The Access Code also sets out detailed "deemed-to-satisfy
provisions", which contain the criteria for each performance
The two methods of achieving compliance with the performance
requirements are, firstly, by using the deemed-to-satisfy
provisions or secondly, by meeting the performance requirements by
using an alternative approach. The alternative approach must be
shown to be of an equivalent standard to the deemed-to-satisfy
The Standards provide some exceptions to the performance
requirements based on unjustifiable hardship, an exemption for acts
done under statutory authority, and concessions in cases of
existing accessible lifts, sanitary facilities, and where the
application for a building approval is submitted by a lessee of a
It will be unlawful to contravene the Standards and the
enforcement of the Standards is through the DDA complaints
What types of building do the Standards apply to?
The Standards apply to all new buildings of a specified class
and only to those structures governed by the BCA. The trigger for
the application of the Standards is when any building work is
undertaken that requires building or construction approval.
The Standards do not apply to:
existing buildings which are not undergoing building work or
where an application for building or construction approval was
submitted prior to 1 May 2011
access requirements for certain types of premises, most notably
private residences (classed as 1a buildings under the Standards)
and to internal parts of flats or apartments (classed as class 2
buildings under the Standards), unless they have short-term
access requirements not governed by the BCA such as fit out
works not requiring building approval.
Who the Standards apply to
The following people are deemed to have responsibility for, or
control over, compliance with the Standards, including the Access
building certifiers which include private certifiers, building
surveyors and local councils
building developers which include property developers, owners,
designers, builders, managers and lessees
building managers, for example, the property owner, lessees,
facility manager or operational staff responsible for the ongoing
management of a building.
If a building complies with the Standard, those responsible for
the building cannot be subject to a successful complaint under the
The implications of the Standards
The Standards now provide clearly identifiable performance
requirements that, if followed, will ensure compliance with the
DDA. Building certifiers, developers and building managers should
familiarise themselves with these requirements to ensure they
understand their obligations under the Standards. Furthermore, any
relevant contracts that are entered into after 1 May 2011 should be
drafted in a way that ensures responsibility for compliance with
the Standards is allocated between the relevant parties.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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