This was the title of a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission marking ten years of achievements using Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act (1992).
One of the landmark rulings for access to public buildings was made in 1994 when Kevin Cocks was confronted by the brand new grand 27 step entry to the new Queensland Convention and Exhibition Centre. He was told the wheelchair accessible entry was 43 meters away through a back entrance lift. Thereafter, the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found that the failure to provide equal access to the front entrance of the Convention Centre was unlawful discrimination and ordered the construction of a lift.
Until this time the construction industry in general had not paid much attention to equitable access to public premises. Now it is a standard feature of all new public facilities, and it is illegal to not supply adequate facilities. They also need to comply with the Australian and New Zealand Standards.
There are 10 sections to this Australian Standard series and they are revised periodically. There is no ratio or limit of use for public buildings so the facilities must be supplied whether they are used by none, one or many people with disabilities. In many cases however, the modifications which are made for persons with disabilities are the same as required for other groups such as the elderly, or people with small children.
Many existing buildings have also been modified to comply with these standards, along with car parking, amenities, and service counters. But some public buildings such as large sprawling schools across hillsides, are difficult to retrofit so accessible areas may still be limited. In some occasions, bathrooms are often not large enough to comply with disability services, as we have found in sports clubs for instance. By joining bathrooms they become easier to meet compliance. They can also double as a change room, and less taps can save water costs for the club.