Many of the access issues addressed in these Advisory Notes on streetscape, public outdoor areas, fixtures, fittings and furniture originally formed part of the Advisory Notes on Access to Premises first issued by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 1997.
In publishing the Advisory Notes on Access to Premises the Commission was responding to requests from people who design, build, own, manage, lease, operate, regulate and use premises for information about their responsibilities and rights under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and in particular under section 23 Access to Premises.
The Advisory Notes on Access to Premises were not mandatory, but aimed to:
- provide a checklist of all the issues (or elements) the Commission believed should be considered in the design, construction and operation of a building and the built environment outside of buildings to ensure access for people with disability
- provide a number of technical 'Reference points and notes' to assist people who are responsible for premises to achieve better access.
In May 2011 the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards 2010 (Premises Standards) came into force. The Premises Standards include an Access Code for buildings (Access Code) which sets out a number of mandatory Performance Requirements and provides minimum ‘deemed-to-satisfy’ technical specifications as one means of meeting the Performance Requirements for buildings.
Compliance with these minimum deemed-to-satisfy requirements ensures compliance with the general non-discrimination requirements of the DDA on those matters covered by the Premises Standards.
This means that for those matters covered in both the Advisory Notes on Access to Premises and the Premises Standards, such as the design and construction of ramps and stairways, accessible toilets, circulation space requirements and hearing augmentation systems the appropriate reference point to meet minimum requirements in relation to buildings is now the Premises Standards.
As a result the Commission has decided to withdraw the Advisory Notes on Access to Premises from circulation to avoid confusion in relation to those matters covered by both documents.
However, the Advisory Notes on Access to Premises covered a broader range of access issues than those covered by the Premises Standards which is largely limited to the design and construction of the basic building structure.
For example, many issues that may give rise to barriers to access within buildings, such as some fitout features, fixtures and furnishings and discrimination by staff are not covered by the Premises Standards.
Similarly infrastructure such as public footpaths, outdoor areas such as parks and playgrounds, landscaping and road crossings are not covered by the Premises Standards.
Those access issues not addressed in the Premises Standards continue to be subject to possible discrimination complaints by people with disability if they experience an access barrier.
As a consequence the Commission has issued this Advisory Notes on streetscape, public outdoor areas, fixtures, fittings and furniture to assist those responsible for premises who are seeking to improve access on matters not covered by the Premises Standards.