This page belongs to: Premises Standards Review 2021

About the 2021 review

The terms of reference (ToR) for the 2021 review were informed by stakeholders’ feedback during the initial discovery phase of the review. The responsible ministers for the review agreed to the ToR on 4 February 2021.

Terms of reference

The review of the Premises Standards will consider the effectiveness of the Premises Standards in achieving its objectives and identify any necessary amendments.

In reviewing its effectiveness, this review will consider whether the Premises Standards has:

  • provided people with disability dignified, equitable, cost-effective and reasonably achievable access to public buildings, and facilities and services within buildings that they have a right to enter; and
  • given greater certainty to people working in the building industry that access to buildings is compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The review will also:

  • consider the interaction between the Premises Standards and related regulations operating in the states and territories;
  • consider inconsistencies in the interpretation and application of the Premises Standards;
  • consider any outstanding recommendations from the first statutory review of the Premises Standards (2016); and
  • examine any other matters relevant to the Premises Standards and their interaction with current disability reviews and findings from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Disability Royal Commission) and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.


We undertook the 2021 review in 3 phases to target new stakeholders (participants living with disability who may not usually participate) and established stakeholders. We also conducted a literature review to explore policy options and implementation outcomes in other countries.

The 2021 review implemented quantitative and qualitative data capture processes. These let us standardise and analyse insights from the first and second reviews (and any future reviews) to drive more evidence-based policy and decision making. All submissions were recorded in a table and then analysed manually (by reading, coding and analysing every submission) and via an artificial intelligence powered platform. 

Submissions often raised issues across multiple key themes. Key themes were broken down into sub-themes, which were further broken down into categories. This allowed the review team to identify issues that intersect across multiple themes.

This approach informed the review’s understanding of the impact of specific issues across disability types, age groups and building types.

Review process: discover, consult and engage


The first phase of consultation – called the ‘discovery’ phase – started on 8 September 2020 and concluded on 30 November 2020. It focused on understanding stakeholders’ experience with the Premises Standards.

The discovery phase used a semi-structured survey design and open-ended questions. It asked participants for their lived experience with buildings and examples of what did and did not work for them.

Accessible Easy Read versions of the survey were available. We accepted multiple methods of participation, including:

  • emails
  • letters
  • audio and video submissions
  • telephone calls.

We identified 6 key themes during the discovery phase (Figure 1).

  • consistency and clarity
  • compliance
  • access and egress
  • communication and wayfinding
  • toilet and change room provisions
  • environmental sensitivities.
Designed graphic showing the 6 key themes

Figure 1: Key themes identified in the discovery phase

Stakeholder submissions from the discovery phase shaped the terms of reference and consultation paper for the second phase of the review. The second phase began following the approval of the terms of reference by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology and the Attorney-General. 


The second phase of the review started on 22 February 2021 and finished on 30 April 2021. It was designed to draw out views on specific issues with the Premises Standards and opportunities for improvement.

We made the consultation paper available in an accessible Easy Read format. Submissions during the second phase of consultation provided more detailed and technical information compared to the discovery phase.

Throughout the first and second phases of consultation, we received a total of 251 submissions from the online survey, emails, letters, audio and video, and telephone submissions. 69.3% of the submissions were received from organisations while 30.7% of the submissions were from individuals. Out of the 251 submissions too, 80.89% submissions were received from the disability sector, 9.2% from building industry and 10% from the government sectors.

Two pie charts showing the breakdown of submissions by stakeholder type and sector

Figure 2: Percentage of submissions by stakeholder type


The third phase of the review started on 31 March 2021 and concluded on 22 April 2021. For this phase we engaged The Social Deck, a consultancy with expertise in strategic communication and community engagement. The Social Deck provided expert facilitation and engagement tools to explore the issues raised in the first two phases of consultations.

The aim of this phase was to inform the conversation and identify potential solutions with (Figure 3):

  • stakeholders in the disability sector (193 stakeholders attended)
  • building professionals (38 stakeholders attended)
  • employers (39 access consultant stakeholders attended)
  • all levels of government (62 stakeholders attended).

Along with 251 submissions received, The Social Deck conducted engagements using webinars, focus groups, in-depth interviews, discussion boards and workshops (see Figure 3). A total of 579 stakeholders from individuals and organisations from disability and building sectors and government bodies participated in these activities. Some stakeholders attended more than one activities.

Graphic summarising the stakeholders and engagement tools described in this section

Figure 3: Breakdown of engagement tools and interest groups

We launched the engagement phase at a national webinar with Dr Ben Gauntlett, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, as key speaker. 143 people from the building industry, disability sector and government participated.

The 3 priorities for change that emerged from the webinar were: 

  • the importance of improving knowledge and understanding across all aspects of the Premises Standards and their application
  • improving auditing and enforcement of the Premises Standards
  • strengthening specific requirements in the Premises Standards.

The review sought feedback from many different disability communities as well as their families, carers and friends. Focus groups allowed more targeted engagement and ensured the review could reach people with disability and their families or carers. 

Nine focus groups were held with:

  • local, state, territory and federal government officials
  • building industry professionals
  • people living with vision impairment
  • people living with sensory processing issues
  • people living with intellectual disability
  • people living with physical disability in regional Australia
  • young people with disability
  • deaf First Nations people
  • people living with physical disability in metropolitan Australia.

Seventeen participants provided detailed responses during 14 in-depth interview sessions. These interviews let us to ask follow-up questions to obtain additional information. Interviews also let us capture views from audience groups that did not have the chance to participate in the other consultation activities.

In-depth interviews were held with:

  • First Nations people with disability (regional)
  • First Nations people with disability (remote)
  • culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability 
  • a deafblind person
  • people with physical disability and complex communication needs
  • people with a special interest in the building codes
  • People with a special interest in disability issues.

We used 3 online discussion boards to draw on lived experiences and specific accessibility issues, as well as to facilitate more technical discussion. Discussion boards consisted of:

  • building industry professionals
  • people with disability
  • formal and informal carers.

Finally, we conducted 3 workshops for individuals, organisations and peak bodies from different disability backgrounds to discuss the Premises Standards. The workshops aimed to summarise the problems raised during the review and brainstorm possible solutions to improve the effectiveness of the Premises Standards. A full breakdown of the activities list is listed in Appendix B.

“It’s good to see lots of improvements with technology, but the community are not educated about new types of accessible toilets. I have never been in one before, and I think that other deafblind people might be in the same situation. There’s no education about the new accessibility.”

– Person with disability

“I think the Commonwealth and state and territory governments need to agree on a consistent way of adopting those elements of the Premises Standards to give greater surety to the building sector, to local government who still has a role to play in the approval processes, so that we can fully understand what’s required and where the concessions are within the Premises Standards.”

– Disability advocate stakeholder

“I know that a lot of people in wheelchairs I know, I know for a fact that they do have problems accessing buildings, because the doors don't self-open and they have to ask people to open it for them, and that puts them at a disadvantage. They don't want to be at a disadvantage, because all people with disability are independent, and that's a big issue with people. Especially government, because they don’t look at that independence, all they look at is the disability.”

– Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person with disability