Section 23 Access to premises of the DDA refers to non-discriminatory access to and use of premises and covers more than just the construction of buildings used by the public. Section 4 of the DDA defines ‘premises’ as follows:

 premises includes:

  1. a structure, building, aircraft, vehicle or vessel; and
  2. a place (whether enclosed or built on or not); and
  3. a part of premises (including premises of a kind mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)).


This definition of premises extends well beyond the scope of the BCA, which is primarily concerned with the construction and safety of buildings. The DDA definition of premises includes areas such as parkland, recreation area, playgrounds, transport vehicles and could apply to non-building elements such as furniture, fixtures and fittings.[1]


While the Premises Standards could address a broader range of access issues in the built environment, at this stage they only apply to public buildings of the type covered by the building classifications within the BCA and only to new buildings and existing buildings that undergo building work that involves extensions to, or modifications of the building where a building or construction approval is required.


This means that there are a number of situations where the Premises Standards are either not triggered or do not apply, including:


  • Existing buildings – those buildings that existed before the Premises Standards came into force (or where an application for building/construction approval was sought before the Premises Standards came into force) and are not undergoing any building work.

  • Fitout features of a building for which building approval is generally not required (in some states this may be exempt development) – this might include reception desks, drink fountains, removable workstation partitions, change rooms in clothes shops, moveable furniture, fixtures and fittings.

  • Some wayfinding features of buildings not covered by the signage requirements of the Premises Standards – for example tenants’ boards, room identification, directions to key building facilities or features.

  • Some short-term holiday accommodation buildings such as those bed and breakfast facilities or holiday cabins that are specifically excluded from the Premises Standards (see discussion under Part D3 of the Access Code below).

  • Public footpaths, parks, recreation areas, transport conveyances – those parts of the built environment that are not covered by the Premises Standards.


The Premises Standards also do not cover possible discrimination by staff or building operators in their interactions with people with disability using a building.


In all these situations if a person with disability experiences discrimination because the building or feature is not accessible, or because of discriminatory treatment, a complaint can be made directly under the provisions of the DDA.


So, for example, it will continue to be possible for a person with disability to complain about access to a local shop or hotel that was built before the Premises Standards commenced, about the inaccessibility of certain fixtures and fittings or about the inaccessibility of directional information not covered by the Premises Standards.


[1]      Premises’ such as aircraft, ferries and public transport conveyances are already covered by the Disability Standards on Accessible Public Transport 2002.