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Building and design legislation and standards

Every child has a right to an inclusive education. People with disability living in Australia have the same human rights as all other members of the community. These rights are supported by legislation.

Designing for everyone is one way to help children and students increase their ability to take part in their education. This goes beyond the minimum legal standards for access. Universal design helps all students, including students with disability, to engage, learn and play.

Rights and discrimination

Everyone’s right to an inclusive education is stated in the United Nations:

Australia has a commitment to both of these conventions. They are the basis of Federal and South Australian Government legislation.

These Acts make discrimination on the basis of disability unlawful:

All children and students who experience disability have a right to access and participate in education. Reasonable changes must be made so that students can take part in the activities at early childhood education and care centres and schools.

Building and design legislation and standards 

Below is a list of legislation for new or renovated buildings in schools, preschools and children’s centres. The legislation focuses mainly on access.

Architects, designers, builders, contractors and schools use these to create the best quality learning environments. People involved need to consider all aspects of disability when building and renovating. For example, they should design for children and students on the autism spectrum, those who live with an intellectual disability, hearing, vision or physical impairment. They have to think about the child’s individual needs as well the diverse population of children with disability.

Building industry codes and standards do not address many of these extra needs. Universal design is one way to meet some of the broader needs of these children and students.

Federal government legislation

State government regulations

Sector-specific information

All sectors must follow federal government legislation.

Department for Education

The department has a set of design standards.

When a child or student needs renovations done to make the department site accessible for them, a disability access check has to be done by site leaders and special educators. 

Guidelines for Catholic schools 

For building and renovation guidance Catholic Schools should contact the Infrastructure, Planning and Development team at the Catholic Education South Australia Office on 83016600.

Independent schools

For information about buildings, South Australian independent schools can contact the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia on 8179 1419.

Asset Standards and Environmental Management

This information was provided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee: Children and Students with Disability which ceased in 2019.

For advice on building standards contact:

Phone: 8226 3497
Email: education.standards@sa.gov.au

For advice on inclusive legislation and policies contact:

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Phone: 8226 0521
Email: education.DPP@sa.gov.au