Positional statement – Infrastructure, Planning and the built Environment

1.     PWDACT advocates for a built environment which is barrier free and universally accessible for all in accordance with ACT and Commonwealth human rights and anti-discrimination laws, the Commonwealth National Disability Strategy and articles 9 and 20 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disability (CRPD)[1].

2.     People with disabilities have the right to move with safety and dignity in an environment which is barrier free and accessible. This is especially so in a society in which a person’s competence and ability is measured by the ease with which they move in an environment.

3.     Infrastructure and a built environment which is barrier free and universally accessible for people with disabilities benefits all the community by increasing the ease with which all people can move around in their environments, transact their business and participate in the social and cultural life of the community.

4.     Currently, the ACT does not have in place any structures or processes to ensure that major infrastructure projects such as transport systems, new stadiums and major residential and commercial developments are barrier free and universally accessible for all people with disabilities. There is no structure or process to include the lived experience of people with disabilities in the planning and implementation of major infrastructure works through initial concept development, planning, construction and building and systems testing.

5.     PWDACT highlight that the ACT Government and taxpayers are vulnerable to the planning, development and implementation of major infrastructure works and commercial and residential developments which are inaccessible in ways which may contravene ACT Human Rights and Federal and ACT Discrimination laws. This could result in substantial delays and cost overruns in major projects due to the need for expensive and extensive retrofitting and remedial action. There is also potential liability for discrimination claims.

6.     PWDACT calls on the ACT Government to establish an Access and Planning Advisory Committee to run an access ruler over major development applications, and make recommendations for changes to the proposals to improve accessibility of the development. This aspect of PWDACT’s Policy was included in the Parliamentary Agreement between the Labor Party and the Greens which underpins the ACT Government. However, this has not been implemented despite PWDACT’s calls for action to be taken in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 ACT Budgets.

7.     PWDACT calls on the ACT government to take the following actions to ensure that major transport systems, the built environment and major commercial and residential developments are barrier free and universally accessible:

a.   Establish an access and planning advisory Committee consisting of people with disabilities. The Committee would be mandated and resourced  to examine all Government infrastructure projects and major private and commercial projects for their accessibility for people with disabilities and their compliance with principles of universal design and to make recommendations to proponents to address any barriers to accessibility.

b.   To set up regional Access Committees one for each of the five Assembly electorates with a mandate to advise on access issues in their area e.g. in local shops and community facilities and to make recommendations to remedy access issues.

c.    To ensure that people with disabilities who are appointed to the Territory wide Committee and the Regional Access Committees:

i.      Are remunerated for their time as members of ACT Ministerial Advisory Committees;

ii.      Are supported by ACT Government staff with appropriate technical qualifications and have the ability to call on independent advice where necessary;

iii.      Are insured for and indemnified against liability for actions taken in good faith in performance of their functions as Committee members.

[1] https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html accessed 4 February 2019