The Provision of Visitable Housing in Australia: Down to the Detail

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Ward, Margaret
Franz, Jill
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In response to the ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), Australian housing industry leaders, supported by the Australian Government, agreed in 2010 to transform their practices voluntarily to provide an agreed level of visitability in all new housing being visitable by 2020. Called the Livable Housing Design agreement, it has yet to report any measurable change and has failed to meet its interim targets. Research in this area suggests that the anticipated voluntary transformation is unrealistic and that mandatory regulation will be necessary for any lasting transformation to occur. Further, it suggests that the assumptions underpinning the Livable Housing Design agreement are unfounded. This paper reports on a study which problematized these assumptions. The study used eleven newly-constructed dwellings in three housing contexts in Brisbane, Australia. It sought to understand the logics-of-practice in providing, or not providing, visitable housing. By examining the specific details of the dwellings, and interpreting the accounts of twenty-eight interviewees, the study identified three logics-of-practice which challenged the assumptions underpinning the Livable Housing Design agreement. These were evident in all housing contexts indicating a dominant culture where the focus was on the point-of-sale, an aversion to change and deference to a higher authority on matters of social inclusion. The paper suggests that financial incentives for both the builder and the buyer, demonstration by industry leaders and, ultimately, national regulation is the pathway for the Livable Housing Design agreement to reach the 2020 goal. The paper concludes that the Australian Government has three options: to ignore its obligations under the CRPD; to revisit the Livable Housing Design agreement so that it responds the current logics-of-practice within the housing industry that impede the provision of inclusive housing; or to regulate the housing industry through the National Construction Code.

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Social Inclusion

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© 2014 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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