Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Government encouraging better housing options for people with disability

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib today welcomed International Day for People with Disability.

Senator Arbib said today presented an important opportunity for Governments, builders and landlords to consider the extra housing challenges faced by the 3.9 million Australians with a disability.

“Finding appropriate accommodation for many Australians is a daily struggle, especially for those with disability,” Senator Arbib said.

“Beyond thinking about affordability, people with disability also need to consider the ease of access to transport, nearby opportunities for studying, working and shopping, and the physical design of their home.

“The Gillard Government is working hard to increase the availability of housing for people with special needs.”

Senator Arbib said the Social Housing Initiative is delivering more than 19,300 dwellings for people who might otherwise struggle to find a place to live. It is helping them get a roof over their heads while remaining connected with their community as well as study and work opportunities.

“More than 16,500 of those homes meet Universal Design principles that make them more accessible, with grab rails in bathrooms, step-free showers, wide doors and hallways, lever-style door handles and taps, and low light switches,” Senator Arbib said.

“Of those, 6,000 meet the Class C standard of design, meaning they have the ability to create open spaces and easily adjustable bench heights that make them appropriate for a person in a wheelchair.

“It is not just people with disability who benefit from accessible design – as people grow older, their needs will change and they will experience the advantages of wide doorways and movable bench tops.

“International Day for People with Disability is an important time to remember that one in five Australians in our community who rely on governments, businesses and the general community to support accessibility and social inclusion for people with a disability.”