The Victorian Council of Social Service has called on the state government to require that all new houses be designed in a way that makes them accessible to older people and people with disabilities.

The council’s CEO, Cath Smith told the ABC that state governments should aim to have a quarter of all new housing stock complying with accessibility standards by 2030.

“Given that there are tens of thousands of new homes built every year, houses last for decades, we need to get moving now and it means that it has to be regulated across the whole private dwelling system,” she said.
The council estimates that if all new houses were made accessible, it would save the hospital and aged care system over $70 million each year.

But the Housing Industry Association said current standards are sufficient and there is no need for further regulation.

“For most of us who buy a new home, we find many of the accessibility requirements unsightly, aesthetically they may interfere with design,” said the association’s head of policy, Chris Lamont on the ABC’s PM program.

“So there really should be a tailored approach to capture the specific requirements that we have in aged care, or, for the specific disability requirements that a consumer may have.”

Mr Lamont added that across-the-board accessibility requirements would increase building costs.

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