In the Media

What’s being said in the media…

Notable media events and published articles relevant to injuries, the lack of standards and warnings by doctors.

Universal Housing design – ABC Sydney 702 Breakfast Show with Adam Spencer

Extract from the transcript of a radio interview on 24May2010 by Adam Spencer of The Honourable Bill Shorten MP.
At the time of the interview Bill Shorten was the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Childcare Services

ADAM SPENCER: …Cynthia Banham speaks strongly about your push towards [universal design] in… Australian homes.

BILL SHORTEN: Yes,…we’re working well together to try and get people to think about the fact that we should build houses that we can live in no matter what our circumstances…

ADAM SPENCER: …obviously to retro-fit a house where this wasn’t part of the design principle can be massively expensive, but having as a basic design a door being wider when the house is built…, that doesn’t add significantly at all.

BILL SHORTEN: …yes… we’ve got an opportunity to get people thinking when we build new houses – and we build 160,000 new [residences] every year – there’s some basic things that can be done – wider doors, having ideally a toilet… on the ground floor level…, having a level entry between where you get out of the car and go into the house. These things aren’t expensive at all in new houses.

ADAM SPENCER: When you discuss these sort of concepts with the people who design and build our houses are they coming on the journey with you Bill?

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, what’s happened is that for commercial premises it’s taken longer than the Trojan War to design, get agreement on access to premises, which is a bit of shame. It’s no one’s fault at one level, but every year we rebuild two per cent of all commercial buildings in Australia, so in the last 10 years 20 per cent of Australia’s commercial buildings have been rebuilt. But that’s how long it’s taken us to get agreed access standards. They’re now in parliament…. but I’ve been thinking all the time, why does it take 10 years to talk about something which fundamentally people agree on?
So we’ve just had a very good opportunity… to get a whole lot of the key decision makers in the same room… we’ll see if we can get agreement on what sort of standards we think everyone can live with…

ADAM SPENCER: The countries listed in Cynthia’s article as leading the way are Japan, Britain, Canada and Norway, hopefully very soon people will be mentioning Australia on that list Bill.

BILL SHORTEN: I hope so. The Victorian Government has actually bitten the bullet… they’re proposing new standards for houses – a gold, silver, bronze category where houses will, over time, be built towards a bronze, then a silver, then a gold standards of accessibility… some of the bigger builders are already doing what we’re talking about. The issue which has become clear to me… is how do you explain universal design to people?… So we have been grappling with this, along with what it means, and we’re doing pretty well and it’s due to the leadership of all the groups, you know, from Master Builders to the housing industry to the architects, the Property Council, to the Human Rights Commission and Disability activists.

ADAM SPENCER: Well hopefully we’ll have some very good news soon in this space. Thank you very much for your work there Bill, and lovely to speak to you this morning.

BILL SHORTEN: Great Adam. Thank you.

Click here to read full transcript of this interview