Outcome 3: Accessible communities

Why this is important

People with disability in the Northern Territory (NT) continue to experience basic barriers to accessing their community.

There is a ‘critical undersupply’ of social housing in the NT15 which particularly impacts:

  • Aboriginal people with disability
  • those in rural and remote communities.16

There is new public infrastructure still being developed that does not meet national and local accessibility standards and codes.

People with disability, including Aboriginal people, say they need greater involvement in the co-design of public spaces, housing and infrastructure from the start.

Accessible transport is also an ongoing challenge with:

  • 30% of people with disability in Australia having had difficulty or inability using some or all forms of public transport17
  • passenger transport in remote areas of the Territory being inadequate.18

Public information needs to be accessible so that people with disability can participate in society.

Ensuring audio or verbal communication is available:

  • in written text
  • having Easy Read, Auslan or captioning for those who need it is critical.19

Technology will play a greater role in making the lives easier for people with disability over the next 10 years, but it is not the only solution.

While access to telehealth and telepractice has seen improved access to services for many people, connectivity to internet, particularly in remote areas in the Territory, continues to be an issue.

These access barriers can be challenging to solve, but important to get right as they have flow-on effects.

For example:

  • barriers to accessing transport can reduce access to healthcare20
  • inability to communicate effectively can result in underreporting of neglect in the health system.21

The benefits of the Territory’s investment in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are limited by the challenges of ensuring a choice of quality service providers across the Territory, particularly in remote locations.

Effort will be required to overcome workforce constraints, including the recruitment and retention of qualified and passionate staff, comprising of Aboriginal staff.

Addressing shortages of suitable service infrastructure and building the cultural competence of service providers, including increased provision by Aboriginal community controlled organisations, will also be essential.

Our priorities and the action plan

Each outcome has a set of priorities for the life of the strategy.

Under each priority is an action plan.

Read more about the action plan.

People with disability can live in a home that meets their needs and budget and are not at risk of homelessness.

3.1.1 Update construction standards

Review construction standards and implement changes to ensure that all government housing built in the NT reflects best practice and relevant Australian Standards for access and mobility.

Create a plan to rectify existing public housing for people with disability, as required, in consultation with people with disability.

This will include:

  • Implement liveable housing design provisions being introduced in the National Construction Code 2022 for government housing in the NT.
  • Ensure all new remote community housing dwellings are designed to be able to achieve silver standards of the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines (2017) and requirements of AS 4299 (1995), and the Adaptable Housing Standard.
    • All new houses aim to be ‘visitable’ and allow basic provisions for ramp access, level thresholds to wet areas and living areas, and ease of use within toilets and showers.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: From 2022

3.1.2 Increase remote accessible housing stock

Increase the stock of community housing in remote areas through the 10 year commitment ‘Remote Housing Investment Package: Our Community. Our Future. Our Homes. (2017 – 2027)’ which is accessible to people with physical and non-physical disability.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: Ongoing (by 2027)

3.1.3 Increase urban accessible housing stock

Increase the stock of social housing in urban areas which is affordable and accessible to people with physical and non-physical disability.

Lead: Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Timing: Ongoing

3.1.4 Support the growth of the disability accommodation sector

Provide opportunities for specialist disability accommodation providers to construct specialist disability accommodation and build capacity in the sector.

Lead: Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Timing: Ongoing

New and existing public spaces and buildings are designed in line with national and local accessibility standards and codes.

3.2.1 Conduct accessibility audits

Commission independent accessibility audits of a selection of public places, town plans and buildings to identify structures and practices requiring review, prioritising higher risk settings such as correctional and health facilities.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: From 2022

Audit existing public infrastructure to ensure that it is compliant with relevant accessibility standards.

Lead: City of Darwin

Timing: From 2022

Conduct an assessment of NT Government sporting assets in adequately catering for people with a disability (with improvements required to be a priority in the works program) and alignment to Universal Standards.

Lead: Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Timing: From 2022

3.2.2 Embed universal design in all new public places and buildings

Embed universal design in all new public spaces and buildings, particularly those deemed ‘high risk’, so that they are designed with universal principles in mind.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: From 2022

Major assets and infrastructure projects are designed in line with relevant access standards and incorporate Universal Design principles.

Lead: City of Darwin

Timing: From 2022

3.2.3 Avoid or rectify barriers to accessibility through community engagement

Establish and implement a process to engage with people with disability and the community to identify potential barriers to community and infrastructure projects at the project initiation stage, and to identify barriers and develop plans to address them in existing projects.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics; Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Timing: From 2022

Transport options are appropriate and available, including people outside Darwin.

3.3.1 Introduce performance standards for transport

Implement and monitor a system of performance standards for disability accessible transport similar to the key performance indicators for the commercial passenger vehicle industry.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: By 2025

3.3.2 Update bus ticketing systems

Introduce a new bus ticketing system that is accessible and compliant with the disability standards for accessible transport.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: By 2024

3.3.3 Help people meet their transport needs

Help people to meet their unique transport needs by developing schemes and incentives so that people with disability are not disadvantaged. This may include expanding initiatives such as the Transport Subsidy Scheme and Lift Incentive Scheme.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: By 2024

3.3.4 Assist the taxi industry to convert vehicles to be wheelchair accessible

Implement the Territory-wide grants scheme to assist the taxi industry to convert vehicles to be wheelchair accessible.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: From 2022

3.3.5 Improve the range and quality of transport options available in remote areas

Continue to provide funding through the Remote Passenger Transport Program to improve transport access in remote areas; work closely with communities and key stakeholders to ensure that transport requests cater for people with disability.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: Ongoing

People with disability have access to tools and technology which promote their independence and improve their quality of life.

3.4.1 Accessible service information

Expand the use of technology to allow for people with disability to be informed through a variety of information mechanisms e.g. large print, audio, different languages and Braille.

This could include timetables on the website, at bus stops and interchanges.

Improve the accessibility of the Bus Tracker App to provide information on transport options for people living with disability.

Lead: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Timing: From 2023

Public communications are designed in line with national and local accessibility standards.

3.5.1 Ensure communication by government is accessible and inclusive

Ensure programs, services and communication involve inclusive practices where and when required (e.g. text, translation and Auslan services for the hearing impaired, audio for vision impaired).

Lead: Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Timing: Ongoing

3.5.2 Accessible information

Engage Aboriginal Interpreter Service and the Interpreter and Translating Service NT to increase the accessibility of information for people with disability.

Lead: Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities

Timing: From 2022

This means:

  • a strong local disability workforce of skilled, local workers
  • an enhanced role for ACCO in the provision of disability services, culturally competent disability services, and choice of services in rural and remote areas so that living outside of Darwin doesn’t pose a disadvantage in terms of accessing services.

3.6.1 Enhance the role of Aboriginal community controlled organisations in the provision of disability services

Strengthen and grow partnerships with urban and remote Aboriginal community controlled health organisations to provide age and disability services and programs.

This will include partnership arrangements with:

  • Thamarrurr Development Corporation, in Wadeye
  • Wurli Wurlijang, in Katherine
  • Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, in Alice Springs
  • Danila Dilba Health Services, in Greater Darwin, and consultations with other Aboriginal community controlled health organisations to explore options.

Lead: Department of Health

Timing: From 2022

Build the capacity of Aboriginal community controlled organisations to deliver a full range of culturally responsive disability support services that achieve much greater social and economic participation of Aboriginal people with disabilities, consistent with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the associated National Disability Sector Strengthening Plan.

Lead: Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet

Timing: Ongoing

3.6.2 Build the local disability services sector workforce and support local employment in the disability sector

Grow the Aboriginal disability workforce and improve training and professional development for workers, consistent with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the associated National Disability Sector Strengthening Plan.

Lead: Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet

Timing: Ongoing

3.6.3 Increase the number of disability service providers and NDIS registered providers operating in the NT

Connect Small Business Champions with key stakeholders to continue supporting registered providers and those intending to enter the market, to build capacity and capability.

Lead: Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

Timing: From 2022

“Building design and fit-out needs to go beyond ramps instead of stairs. We need to think about how the many types of disability can affect people.

“Telehealth has been really helpful to access interstate support services given the lack of providers and services in the NT.”

“[We need] to consult with people with lived experience when building public buildings – and consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to design suitable housing.”

– Consultation participants

Read outcome 4.

References

15 Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development, A Home for all Territorians: Northern Territory Housing Strategy 2020-2025, page 9 (2019)

16 Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, Interim Report, page 400 (October 2020)

17 Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, Table 19.3 (2018)

18 Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Remote Community Transport Guiding Principles and Tools (February 2019)

19 Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, Interim Report, page 382 (October 2020)

20 Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, Interim Report, page 383 (October 2020)

21 Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, Interim Report, page 391 (October 2020)


Last updated: 29 September 2022

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