Australia People in Canberra with a disability are 'trapped' in their housing, but new rules could change that
Professor Justin Yerbury urges Wollongong council to improve disability access at local venues
Wollongong Council apologises after a prominent professor urges it to address the needs of people with a disability following his "stressful" experience attending a local venue.Justin Yerbury AM said he was not provided with disabled parking or seating, had his foot stuck in a lift door and could not access the over-utilised disabled toilet during Ben Elton's show at the Wollongong Town Hall on Friday night.
Canberrans with physical disabilities often need to build their own homes or end up in public housing, according to advocates, but proposed new national requirements may force builders to construct all new homes to accessible standards.
Currently, people with disabilities can find carrying out even the most simple tasks impossible in the average Canberra house, according to accessibility advocate Craig Wallace. "We have people who [are] trapped in housing where their wheelchairs can't get out the door, where they can't reach the cooktop to heat up a cup of soup," Mr Wallace said.
"We have older people who risk a devastating injury or fall every time that they use the shower."
More shots in the dark
Good morning, early birds. Scott Morrison has reportedly asked the national cabinet to meet twice a week to fix Australia’s troubled vaccine rollout plan, and the discovery of an NDIS cost-cutting taskforce has increased concerns that the Morrison government is attempting to gut the scheme. It's the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.The news comes after Greg Hunt announced the government will not purchase the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine out of concern it carries similarly rare but severe blood clotting risks, with Guardian Australia noting that US health agencies have officially recommended states pause administration of the drug.
As a housing campaigner and advocacy manager at the ACT Council of Social Services, for years Mr Wallace has been calling on the ACT Government to make Canberra more accessible and inclusive.
With an ageing population, he warns.
"The rental market is already really tight for people on low incomes, if you add into that a lack of accessible-built form, it is almost impossible for anyone to find a privately rented or available house that can suit them," he said.
"If they have a disability most people wind up either needing to build — if they have the finances in an expensive city like Canberra — or in public housing.
"What we need is a supply of accessible private rentals that are on the market and available and show everybody that it's actually possible to live in the type of housing that has advantages as you age."
Evictions rise in SA public housing
The South Australian government says tough new rules for public housing tenants have resulted in a rise in evictions.Latest Housing SA figures show a spike in evictions since April 2019, when the new rules were introduced to deal with people who engage in illegal activity, damage the property or refuse to pay rent.
Voluntary guidelines 'failed' to provide adequate housing
Soon, some of the changes Mr Wallace and other peak bodies have been calling for could be put in place.
ACT Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction Rebecca Vassarotti will next week attend a meeting of Australia's Building Ministers to discuss the introduction of mandatory accessibility standards in the National Construction Code.
The standards would mean all homes, townhouses and apartments built in the future would need to meet "universal design" standards— that is, be accessible for most people, regardless of their age, disability, background or other factors.
It would include features such as: doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, no entry steps, a bathroom on the ground floor and structural reinforcements to allow for the installation of things like grip rails if needed in the future.
Ille-et-Vilaine. "Avoid expulsion in the current situation"
© Archives The National Confederation of Housing of Ille-et-Vilaine hopes an extension of the winter breakage of the expulsions of housing. The National Confederation of Housing of Ille-et-Vilaine (CNL35) relays a call launched to the President of the Republic, while the winter truce of housing expulsions arrives eventually.
Ms Vassarotti said universal design had been standard overseas for years, including in the United Kingdom, where accessibility requirements to its residential building regulations were introduced in 1999.
"It is about time Australia's National Construction Code followed suit," she said.
Ms Vassarotti said the current voluntary guidelines, introduced over a decade ago, had failed to create accessible housing, with only five per cent of new homes complying in the past 10 years.
"Indeed, 73.6 per cent of respondents in a 2020 report by the University of Melbourne said they were living in housing that does not, or only partially, meets their needs," she said.
Ms Vassarotti said the changes would be inexpensive and estimated it would only add about one per cent to the cost of a home in Canberra.
"But [it will] save thousands of dollars in expensive retrofitting to homes in the future," she said.
"Above all, they will mean that people are not forced out of their homes because they cannot be adapted to their needs."
However, she acknowledged the building industry would need support through a reasonable timeframe to implement the changes.
"We do need industry to now fully commit to building homes that meet the needs of this community," she said.
COVID vaccine rollout delays frustrate vulnerable Australians in priority group .
Any Australian over the age of 50 will be able to get a COVID vaccine from May 3, but many vulnerable Australians are frustrated that they are still yet to be vaccinated despite being in the priority group. Margaret Ruff's son Raymond, 45, contracted meningitis as a child and is now intellectually disabled and cannot talk, he also has hemiplegia and epilepsy.He lives in a disability care home in the Melbourne suburb of North Fitzroy with four other residents and their carers but Mrs Ruff said no-one there, including staff, had been vaccinated.