VIC – HENDRY disability access consultants advise that existing buildings that are not undergoing any building works or change of use are not required to be upgraded to comply with the Building Code of Australia BCAI disability access requirements.
However, the existing building could still be the subject of a complaint under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act. The Disability Discrimination Act is a complaints based (as opposed to a compliance based) legislation; if a person/building owner does not meet their disability access obligations under the Premises Standards they may be subject of a complaint under the Disability Discrimination Act to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Alternative solutions can be considered by the building surveyor to determine if a disability access proposal complies with the performance requirements of the Building Code of Australia, instead of complying with the Deemed to Satisfy Provisions where the building surveyor determines that the level of disability access is not less than the Deemed to Satisfy Provisions of the BCA. Advice from a disability access consultant may be required, depending on the circumstances, to assess any design solutions on access matters to support the issue of any alternative solution determinations involving disability access by the building surveying professional.
A building surveyor can issue a dispensation to the BCA disability access provisions under Regulation 608 of the Building Regulations 2006 for alterations to an existing building, however since the Premises Standard is Commonwealth legislation under the Disability Discrimination Act, it takes precedence over Victorian State Legislation (Building Regulations 2006).
Disability access and toilet facilities for people with disabilities may need to be upgraded to current BCA and AS 1428.1-2009 requirements if the existing building under goes a change of use or change of occupancy under the provisions of Regulation 1011 of the Building Regulations 2006.
Referenced Disability Access Standards
Refer to our list of Referenced Disability Access Standards for further information on disability access requirements.