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education.vic.gov.au

Accessible Buildings Program

Policy last updated

22 June 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Victorian School Building Authority For more Contacts refer to Guidance tab


Date:
January 2020

Policy

Policy

This policy explains the process that schools must follow to make reasonable adjustments to school facilities for students and staff with disabilities, and in some circumstances, parents with disabilities.

Summary

Details

The Accessible Buildings Program (ABP) is designed to support inclusive government school environments and meet legal obligations under anti-discrimination laws.

Through the ABP, the VSBA assists schools to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to school facilities for students and staff with a disability. This includes pre-existing disabilities, as well as disabilities that arise during enrolment (or employment) as a result of accident or deterioration of existing conditions.

In some circumstances, applications may also be made through the ABP to make modifications so that parents with a disability can access key areas of the school where they will need to attend for example, theatres, assembly halls, the office and pick up/drop off points.

Adjustments to buildings must be cost effective and flexible to allow for changes in demographics, complex behavioural issues, and medical and technological developments.

Application considerations

Applications to the ABP are assessed on a case-by-case basis due to the varied nature of accessibility requirements for individual students, parents and staff members. Applications are to be be specific to the needs of the student or staff member.

Before lodging an ABP application, schools must exhaust all alternative low and no cost operational and timetabling solutions. Schools can contact their regional provision planning manager for assistance with developing these solutions. For information and resources to help support students with disability, refer to Support students with additional needs.

The cost of works delivered through the ABP must exceed $5,000 (GST inclusive), except for applications for hearing equipment. Where possible, the school should provide a quote for the works as part of their ABP application.

Schools seeking to submit an application for the ABP must comply with the requirements, eligibility criteria and exclusions set by the Accessible Building Program Guidelines.

Ongoing considerations

Schools must maintain all modifications and additions in good working order.

Definitions

Reasonable adjustments
A ‘reasonable adjustment’ is determined by the VSBA, working with the school, through consideration of factors including:

  • an individual’s circumstances and adjustments required
  • health professional reports and advice
  • school circumstances and accessibility of existing facilities
  • effects on other users of the facilities
  • the costs and benefits of making the adjustment.

Relevant legislation

Contact

Victorian School Building Authority For more Contacts refer to Guidance tab


Guidance

Accessible Buildings Program Guidelines

The Accessible Buildings Program Guidelines contain the following chapters:

  • Accessible Buildings Program Guidelines Overview
  • Eligibility considerations
  • Hearing eligibility
  • Making applications
  • Assessment and approval
  • Project delivery
  • Contracts

Accessible Buildings Program Guidelines Overview

Accessible Buildings Program Guidelines

Overview

The Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) promotes inclusive learning environments through the Accessible Buildings Program (ABP). The limited annual program makes reasonable adjustments to school facilities and infrastructure in order to provide access to all students and staff in common with their peers.

Refer to the Accessible Buildings Program Policy (in the Policy tab of this topic), which should be read with these guidelines. 


Eligibility considerations

Eligibility considerations

Under the program, the VSBA makes reasonable adjustments to functional areas that the student requires access to, and not to all areas of the school. These adjustments will be consistent with the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 (Cth).

The program ensures inclusion into the school environment and respects the dignity and privacy of each student for whom an application is made.

Eligible projects

The ABP provides funding for projects to:

  • make adjustments to facilities to make sure that students and staff with disabilities have reasonable access to school facilities whilst maintaining their dignity and respect
  • meet the needs of students and staff where accessibility issues occur as a result of existing disabilities, or as a result of accident or deteriorating conditions
  • make adjustments to the functional spaces that the student needs to access in order to meet their curriculum requirements

Eligible modifications

Facility modifications may include:

  • ramps and handrails (including temporary ramps)
  • toilet and shower modifications
  • modifications for vision impairments
  • modifications for hearing impairments
  • change tables and hoists
  • limited external works to improve access for the applicant

Timeframes

To ensure a sufficient processing timeframe, schools are strongly encouraged to submit their ABP applications before September 30, in order to meet Term 1 requirements of the following school year.  Applications can be made at any time.

Relevant standards and legislation

Works will be undertaken in accordance and consideration with the:


Hearing eligibility

Hearing eligibility

The ABP supports students with hearing loss with the provision of eligible hearing technology.   Provisions are in place to support the high volume of hearing equipment applications and to ensure program resources are distributed for maximum student impact.

Confirming hearing loss

In order to confirm hearing loss, supporting evidence must be provided by a qualified audiologist and this should include official recommendations to support curriculum. The technology that is being applied for must be portable in order to support students as they progress through their schooling years, and be compatible with personal devices.

Eligible technology

Technology must not duplicate equipment provided by other Department programs, through the Commonwealth funded Australian Hearing program, or through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Hearing technology can be provided in primary classrooms or home rooms, specialist classrooms, and assembly or auditoriums.

Eligible learning areas

The required areas should be identified on a school map with relevant room numbers provided in the application.  It is expected that schools rationalise timetables and classrooms where possible, so that maximum use is made of the hearing technology equipment. Where this has not occurred, applications will not be considered.

Compatible technology

The application must include a description of the type and brands of the existing hearing technology or audio equipment within the school. Schools should indicate where compatibility is required with existing school technology. Mixing hearing technology brands is not recommended as transmitters and receivers must be of the same brand for compatibility with personal assistive listening devices or with existing technology within the school environment.

ABP application process

Step 1 — School submission

  • School to communicate with their Regional Office and collate application information/evidence
  • Lodgement in EduGate

Step 2  Regional endorsement

  • Initial referral to Regional Office for review
  • If endorsed, then referred to the VSBA’s Accessible Buildings Program Manager

Step 3  Assessment and recommendation for approval

  • Assessment of 'reasonable adjustment' and against ABP policy and relevant legislation
  • Confirmation of project scope
  • Full costing of project

Step 4  Announcement  by Minister of Education

  • The VSBA then submits endorsed applications to the Minister of Education for announcement (if required).

Step 5  Notification to school

  • When the application is approved the Accessible Buildings Program Manager will contact the school principal to notify them of next steps

Step 6  Project delivery

  • School deliver works — reimbursement arranged
  • Project management by ABP
  • Hearing — supply through approved hearing supply panel

Making applications

Making applications

The regional office provides support to schools throughout this process, which includes ensuring all low and no cost options have been exhausted, and assisting the school in acquiring all necessary documentation. Applications are then submitted directly through the Department’s eduGate portal, using the school eduMail account.

What schools need to submit

All applications

It is essential that all necessary documentation is uploaded with the application for assessment, including:

  • the completed application form with the endorsement of the school principal
  • a signed professional report (for example, occupational therapist, audiologist, optometrist etc.) and/or appropriate documentation to support the need for modifications
  • a written report from the visiting teacher (if applicable)
  • quote/estimate for the works
  • a School Asset Management System (SAMS) or school map indicating the rooms and/or locations for modification
  • details and locations of existing accessible facilities similar to the application request (where applicable)
  • advice as to whether the applicant is receiving any other assistance

Hearing specific requirements

Hearing applications must:

  • be accompanied by an audiogram or audiology report or a specialist report confirming hearing loss
  • identify the classroom, location and room number for the functional learning spaces that require hearing technology to determine the size, location and layout of spaces (this information can be located in the School Facilities Profile, under Reports and Plans)
  • identify and describe any current hearing technology (if existing within the school) including pictures of any existing hearing or audio equipment to determine compatibility e.g. existing audio equipment within assembly or auditoriums
  • demonstrate that appropriate timetabling of deaf or hard of hearing students into spaces with equipment already installed has been considered and implemented
  • include a letter of endorsement by a visiting teacher

Once the application has been assessed against the eligibility criteria, schools are advised of the outcome of their Accessible Buildings Program application.


Assessment and approval

Assessment and approval

Administration and coordination

Role of the ABP Manager

Applications to the ABP are assessed on a case-by-case basis due to the varied nature of accessibility requirements for individual students, parents and staff members.

The ABP team assess applications in line with policy, and as part of this process, will confirm the project scope and cost. Applications that are endorsed in line with the policy, are then referred to the Minister’s Office for announcement.

Where applications are not approved, schools receive written advice from the ABP team which provides reasoning, and offers alternative support for schools to lead the project themselves.

Role of the Regional Provision and Planning team

Provision and Planning Officers (PPO) are the first point of contact for schools submitting applications, and provide guidance around the general requirements. PPOs endorse completed applications, which are then referred to the VSBA’s ABP team for assessment.

Role of Visiting Teachers

For hearing applications, Visiting Teachers provide specialist support to confirm the need of the student/school and provide endorsement letters.

Role of schools and Principals

Principals, with the VSBA’s support, ensure facilities are fit-for-purpose and maintained to an operational standard through funding under the Student Resource Package. Where an application does not meet the eligibility criteria for the ABP, schools should still consider alternative opportunities to make their buildings as inclusive and accessible as possible.


Project delivery

Project delivery

As part of the Accessible Buildings program (ABP) delivery model, works can be undertaken through different methods based on the project scope, cost, and complexity.

ABP Project Manager

In most instances, works are managed and delivered through the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA). Either a building contractor or an ABP Project Manager (Consultant) is appointed to oversee the project and be the point of contact for the school and community. Their role may also include:

  • visiting the school to develop a scope of works and a cost estimate and prioritises works to accommodate the specific needs in the application
  • briefing the school and community on the proposed amenity modifications
  • managing project operations including site access arrangements, contractor claims and advice, coordinating the completion and handover process, and notifying the Department’s Asset Management System (Atrium) regarding the facility modifications

Grants

In some instances where schools are seeking minor works that are considered straight forward, the project can be delivered through the school as a grant. This is where the school engages a builder directly to undertake the approved works.

When the project is finished, the school must submit a Completion Acquittal Form to the VSBA. A reimbursement of funds is then made to the school within four weeks.

Hearing applications

There is an approved panel of hearing technology suppliers to support the provision and installation of compatible hearing technology in schools. They also provide assistance by demonstrating the products to the staff on site. School visits are not usually necessary for hearing equipment technology projects.


Contacts

Contacts

Victorian Regional Offices

South-Western Victoria Region

West Footscray9291 6500

Geelong5225 1000

Ballarat5337 8444

Horsham5310 5300

North-Western Victoria Region

Coburg9488 9488

Bendigo: 5440 3111

North-Eastern Victoria Region

Glen Waverley: 9265 2400 

Benalla: 5761 2100

South-Eastern Victoria Region

Dandenong: 8765 5600

Central DET Office

Accessible Buildings Program
Victorian School Building Authority
Email: vsba.response.program@education.vic.gov.au
33 St Andrews Place
East Melbourne 3001


Resources

Resources

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Reviewed 11 March 2020