Directions for South Australia – Universal Design


Article 2 of the United Nations Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities defines Universal Design as:

The design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. “Universal design” shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.

And obliges signatory States (including Australia) to:

Undertake or promote research and development of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities, …, which should require the minimum possible adaptation and the least cost to meet the specific needs of a person with disabilities, to promote their availability and use, and to promote universal design in the development of standards and guidelines;

A walk through city and suburban streets shows the need to promote best practice in access and inclusion planning.  Ramps that are too steep, and road crossing ramps that do not line up are not just inconvenient, they also pose safety risks.  Any costs incurred in retro-fitting basic infrastructure are offset by greater accessibility to public spaces, meaning more people can get out and about safely and conveniently.

In 2016, the South Australian Upper House unanimously supported Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent’s amendments to the government’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Bill, and the resulting law will increase accessibility for everyone.  The universal design amendments mean that South Australian developers will be required to consider universal design principles in their proposals. This is an Australian first.



Dignity Party is committed to advocating for:

– Mandatory universal design of new housing, publicly accessible buildings and spaces.

– The inclusion of simple features such as: wider doorways, at least one entry that is step-free, a toilet on the ground floor and bathroom walls reinforced so that they are able to be fitted with appropriate rails when needed.  These four simple adaptions to every house plan mean safer, more accessible housing stock for all, including our ageing community.

– Cost-savings of universal design over the lifetime of a dwelling needs to be counted in terms of the guaranteed reduction of falls in the home.   With ageing comes an increase in disability and our built environment must accommodate this.

– SA government must insist on all homes built with public money being accessible.

– Mandating Universal Design for public transport, and hotel accommodation.  This would enable South Australia to market itself as an accessible tourist destination.  Priority would also need to be given to adapting existing tourist attractions such as outdoor environments, sporting facilities, monuments and buildings of natural and cultural significance to be universally accessible.

– Demonstrating both common sense and economic sense, of ensuring that well designed buildings and environments, that meet universal design principles are the norm across South Australia.


Dignity Party endeavour to not only advocate for the above policy points, but want to see a fairer, more inclusive South Australia, that is properly designed for all of us.