LIVABLE HOUSING AUSTRALIA ONLINE PORTAL/WEBSITE LAUNCH

Thank you Amelia, for the opportunity to participate in this wonderful event.

In Dr Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of human needs, housing stands as one of the most fundamental requirements of human life.

Yet as we go about our daily routine, most able-bodied Australians spare little thought for the particular challenges faced by those with disabilities who seek adequate and appropriate housing.

As we skip up several flights of stairs we can tend to be oblivious to the access requirements of those who are wheelchair bound.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be sighted can tend to forget the needs of those who are vision impaired.

The Livable Housing Australia – LHA – was established in 2011 with precisely this challenge in mind.

It was founded with the task of promoting appropriate housing for those with disabilities in a manner that is both effective and sustainable.

It’s a national not-for-profit group that champions the adoption of universal design features in Australian homes.

And the formulation of a national accreditation system for liveable design standards has been LHA’s signal achievement.

The Livable Housing Design Initiative is a key feature of our National Disability Strategy.

It includes guidelines for developing liveable housing designs and a strategic plan to promote the implementation of agreed standards for all new homes by 2020.

And it’s worthwhile to note this has all been achieved through bottom-up grassroots collaboration rather than through top-down government coercion.

All you have to do is look at the composition of the LHA Board.

It runs the gamut, including representatives of industry, a former Disability Discrimination Commissioner and the CEO of the Council on Ageing – just to mention a few.

That Australians are living longer is a good thing.

But it’s a good thing that brings in train a new set of challenges.

The Livable Housing Design Initiative is a way to meet those challenges from the micro and macro level alike.

At the micro level it will benefit people with a disability and seniors by providing housing that accommodates their particular – and at times changing – needs.

And at the macro level it will lessen pressure on future budgets by helping Australians to stay in their homes longer.

So how does this all work?

The Livable Housing Design Initiative provides instruction on the features required to make homes more ‘disability-friendly’.

It provides technical advice and guidance on the most effective ways of making homes safer and easier to live in for people of all ages and abilities.

It provides a hierarchy of options – silver, gold and platinum – that a home owner, builder or developer can apply to any new building project.

LHA is currently in discussions with the National Disability Insurance Agency with the objective of making housing developed under the NDIS compatible with the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a big fan of technology.

One of the initiatives I’m implementing in another part of my portfolio is the simplification of the grants process to allow on-line application and reporting.

So I’m particularly pleased to preside over the launch of the Livable housing Australia Online Assessment Portal.

The Portal will make it easier for industry and developers to ascertain whether their projects meet the Livable Design criteria.

It will also provide a one-stop-shop pathway to qualify for the LHA Liveable Quality Mark – those silver, gold or platinum performance levels that I mentioned just a few moments ago.

This will provide a positive incentive that should encourage industry stakeholders to become participants in this important programme.

It might be a developer seeking a competitive advantage in the marketplace;

For developers or design consultants seeking competitive advantage, the LHA Quality stamp-of-approval is an excellent way to differentiate their products from others in the marketplace.

But don’t just take my word for it.

You can ask the Australian Institute of Architects, the Property Council of Australia and the Master Builders of Australia – all of whom have recently signed on as platinum partners in this enterprise.

I think this bodes very well for the future endeavours of LHA.

On that note of optimism allow me to fulfil my happy task of officially launching the new LHA website and portal.

I congratulate Livable Housing Australia and the Built Environment Meets Parliament Initiative and wish you all success for the future.