Obvius Access

  Disability Access Consultants with a Balanced Approach

 

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The Premises Standards  

The Premises Standards in relation to the DDA 

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) prohibits unlawful Discrimination in the provision of access to public buildings. However, the DDA provides no design specifications to assist developers in meetings this Non-Discrimination requirement. Although Building Regulations progressively added access requirements, there was no certainty that these provisions were, or are, sufficient to satisfy the general Non-Discrimination required under the DDA. 

Since the DDA came into force in March 1993, complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission have shown inconsistencies between the requirements of Anti-Discrimination Law and Building Law (BCA). This caused difficulty for the Building industry. Compliance with the BCA did not necessarily mean Compliance with the DDA. 

The inconsistency between Anti-Discrimination Law and Building Law also generated uncertainly and difficulties for people with a Disability - who considered that Building Law Standards were inadequate and that individual complaints would not work to bring wide-ranging change to improve access. 

Certifiers and Regulators wanted to ensure that the best possible access was provided. However they could not be sure of the minimum level of access necessary to meet both Building and Anti-Discrimination Law requirements. 

In 2001 Australian Government amended the DDA to allow for the development of Disability Standards for access to premises (Premises Standards) 

On 1st May 2011 The Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) 2010 (Premises Standards) came into operation and applies to Buildings where approval is logged on or after that date. 

The Premises Standards set performance and provide references to technical specification to ensure dignified access to, and use of, buildings for people with a Disability. They clarify the general Non-Discrimination provisions of the DDA in relation to the design construction and management of Buildings. 

The Premises Standards are made under subsection 31(1) of the DDA and apply to all new buildings of the specified classes. These are building classifications used in Building Law. 

The Premises Standards applies to new work undertaken on existing Buildings that require Building approval, such as an extension or renovation. 

Some upgrades or improvements to buildings such as re-wiring, painting, replacement of heating or air conditioning systems or general maintenance are unlikely to require Building approval and hence the Premises Standards would not apply in those cases. 

Complying with the Premises Standards satisfies the DDA Non-Discrimination requirements for the matters covered by the Standards. If a person acts in accordance with the requirements of the Premises Standards, a successful compliant cannot be made in relation to that action under the DDA. 

Existing Buildings not undergoing new work will be subject to the existing provisions of the DDA and owners and operators will continue to be exposed to complaints if Non-Discrimination access is not provided. 

John Bedwell Obvius Access 22nd November 2012 

 

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