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Accessible Housing Project

Disability Disability Rights
A young man is sitting in an armchair patting a dog. He is wearing prosthetic lower legs.

One of Commissioner Gauntlett’s term goals is to increase access to accessible housing for people with disability. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), people with disability have the right to an adequate standard of living on an equal basis to others and the right to fully participate in all aspects of life. Through the accessible housing project, the Commission aims to address the gap between the limited supply of accessible housing, and the demand that exists from people with disability. To achieve this goal, the Commission has entered into a partnership with Monash University’s Urban Lab, within the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art Design and Architecture (Monash).   

Background to the project   

Approximately one in five people in Australia have a disability and over 96% of people with disability live in the community in houses, duplexes, apartments, townhouses and units which they own or rent. Currently, most housing in Australia does not meet the needs of people with disability with problems including poor access and unsuitable internal layouts, particularly inadequately designed bathrooms. Dwellings may also be poorly located to support community participation.  

The provision and availability of accessible housing for people with disability can be enhanced in two ways:   

  • by ensuring that all housing is constructed to meet mandatory minimum accessibility requirements from the outset, or   

  • through some form of modification or adaptation, which may involve a substantial renovation.  

Accessible design and housing also benefits the community by reducing the need for care, keeping Australians close to family and friends, enabling people to leave the hospital promptly and facilitating meaningful economic and social participation.  

This project will consider how existing design approaches can be used to create and modify houses to meet the needs of people with disability.   

Scoping Report 

The Commission commissioned a report from Monash University’s Urban Lab, within the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art Design and Architecture (Monash) on current approaches to the adaptation and modification of housing stock to meet the needs of people with disability.  

This report provides insight into how existing design approaches can be used to improve accessibility and create houses which meet the needs of people with disability. This includes considering the existing economic, regulatory, technological and construction frameworks and the opportunities these present to increase accessible housing availability. 

The report was complemented by the additional work the Commission are completing with Monash including the delivery of research-led teaching units relating to human rights in the context of housing, universal and accessible design. Monash students have been encouraged to consider housing through a human rights framework which recognises the fundamental right of all Australians to enjoy housing which meets their needs. In these units, the Commissioner has acted as the “client” for students to consider accessible housing options and designs.  

The next phase of this project will be an exhibition of both the research findings and student designs. 

The scoping study on adaptable housing for people with disability can be found here.