This clip is the presentation at the ABCB's National Consultation Forums on Accessible Housing. It includes an overview of the ABCB, project objectives and scope, the Regulation Impact Analysis process and an overview and detailed discussion of the options being explored. The forums were held from 15 October to 1 November 2018. Please note, slide 27: Options for NCC change – Details, the fourth column in the table has been incorrectly labelled. This should read ‘OPTION 3 (Gold 12).


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[Presentation slide shown: Accessible Housing National Consultation Forums 2018 presentation cover]

Voice over: Welcome to the Australian Building Codes Board's Accessible Housing National Consultation Forums webcast. My name is Kieran O'Donnell, I'll be your presenter.

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[Presentation slide changes to: Introduction]

Voice over: The Australian Building Codes Board, or ABCB, is a Council of Australian Governments’ standards-writing body. We're responsible for the National Construction Code.

The ABCB works on behalf of the nine governments, which is the eight States and Territory governments as well as the Commonwealth, through the Building Ministers' Forum. Our purpose and main responsibility is to maintain and update the National Construction Code, which is a minimum necessary technical code for the design, construction, performance and liveability of new buildings.

The NCC is developed to meet the strategic priorities of governments having regard to societal needs and to satisfy the best practice regulation principles set down for us by COAG.

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[Presentation slide changes to: Building Control Governance]

Voice over: Accessible Housing has been included on our work program this year. However it is important to note that the inclusion of Accessible Housing on our work program is not a commitment to regulate at this stage.

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Voice over: A little bit about the building control governance system. Under the Australian Constitution, governance of the built environment is the responsibility of State and Territory governments who are therefore the empowered regulators. The ABCB itself has no statutory powers and administers no legislation. What this means, for example, is that we don't grant permits, carry out inspections or issue fines or rulings or orders.

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Voice over: This is done by the State and Territory building regulatory agencies and it's therefore a matter for those agencies to monitor and enforce compliance with the NCC and address complaints regarding to existing buildings.

[Presentation slide changes to: Building Control Governance (cont.)]

Voice over: The eight State and Territory governments accept the NCC as their minimum, mandatory, national technical standard for the design and construction of buildings. They implement the NCC via their administrative laws - generally a Building Act and Building Regulations. What this means it is also the States and Territories who define what a building is, what building work is and when it is that a building has to comply with the NCC.

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[Presentation slide changes to: ABCB Objectives]

Voice over: The Board's key objectives are set out in our inter-governmental agreement are to address issues of safety and health; amenity and accessibility and sustainability in the design, construction, performance and liveability of new buildings.

[Presentation slide changes to: ABCB Objectives (cont.)]

Voice over: On this slide we show the principles that govern how we maintain and update the NCC.

These include the minimum necessary, so the NCC is a minimum necessary code. It sets a safety net, if you like, the floor below which buildings must not go. However, that does not mean that you cannot go beyond the minimum necessary. To give you an example of when that often occurs, the NCC sets a minimum ceiling height of 2.4 meters for most habitable rooms.

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Voice over: However in many cases people specify ceilings higher than that, not because the NCC requires it, but because that's what the customer wants.

The NCC is a performance-based code. What this means is that it's based on a series of high-level performance requirements which are mandatory and you have the option of meeting those by either complying with the technical Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions provided within the code, or through any other solution so long as you can show that that solution meets the mandatory Performance Requirements of the NCC.

The NCC requirements also need to be verifiable. What this means is that the requirements are clear and measurable and that compliance can be assessed in a way that is consistent and repeatable.

We also work to ensure that the NCC is not anti-competitive, that it does not unnecessarily restrict competition.

We also work to ensure that there is a rigorously-tested rationale for any change that we make to the NCC and that that change is the effective and proportional. In short, we assess changes to the NCC through an evidence-based approach.

We also work to ensure that in determining a change to the NCC, that there is not a non-regulatory approach that would be just as effective.

[Presentation slide changes to: ABCB Objectives (cont.)]

Voice over: Another key objective for the ABCB is national consistency. This is to ensure that, as far as practicable, the NCC requirements are consistent between each State and Territory, although there is allowance for climatic and geographical variations where appropriate.

Another of our key objectives is to raise awareness and provide information about the NCC. We do this so that people using the NCC have a good understanding of its requirements and what it's trying to achieve, which in turn helps improve compliance with the current overall.

We also administer two Product Certification Schemes associated with the NCC, one of which is CodeMark Australia; a voluntary scheme for building products. The other is the WaterMark Certification Scheme, which is a mandatory scheme for plumbing and drainage products.

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[Presentation slide changes to: Background]

Voice over: A little bit of background on the project. So the Accessible Housing project came about through a proposal from the Building Ministers' Forum to COAG in 2017 proposing that a Regulatory Impact Assessment be carried out with regard to the possibility of setting a minimum accessibility standard for housing in the National Construction Code.

A Regulation Impact Assessment, RIA, is a form of cost-benefit analysis. It includes the Regulation Impact Statement, which is the formal documentation of that process. This proposal for the RIA process to be carried out was supported by COAG in 2017.

In connection with that, COAG also asked that we work with the Disability Reform Council Ministers on this project. The Disability Reform Council is another group of State/Territory and Commonwealth Ministers with responsibility in the area of disability policy.

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Voice over: The Disability Reform Council, or DRC, is also responsible for the National Disability Strategy 2010 to 2020. One element of which was the aspirational target, agreed to through that strategy, that 100 percent of new houses would be to an accessibility standard by 2020.

[Presentation slide changes to: Current Situation]

Voice over: Now the current situation. The NCC requirements do not currently include accessibility standards for housing. However, there are requirements for the common areas and any floor served by a lift or ramp. In apartment buildings, these requirements only apply to at least one floor of units and only up to the door of units on any floor covered by those requirements.

The Disability Discrimination Act does not grant a right of access to private homes in the same way that it does for public buildings. Access to the home is granted by the occupant at their personal discretion.

Some of the other approaches that are currently being used to provide for more accessible housing outside of the NCC includes State and Territory Regulations and planning controls. For example apartment design guidelines are used in some states. There's also additions to the NCC and other planning instruments, are also used to set accessibility standards for housing in some States and Territories.

Governments often also specify accessibility as part of their construction of public housing.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme also funds home modifications and would continue to do so, even if the NCC were changed to set an accessibility standard for housing. This is because the NCC is quite separate from the NDIS. It only applies to new homes and its requirements may not meet the individual needs of all NDIS participants.

The Livable Housing Design Guidelines are another approach that's currently being used. These are a voluntary guideline. The Livable Housing Design Guidelines were agreed on following the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design in 2010, as the way that governments would seek to that aspirational target mentioned earlier as part of the National Disability Strategy. The Livable Housing Design Guidelines are currently in their fourth edition. They are available through

[Presentation slide changes to: Identifying the problem]

Voice over: Now a little bit about identifying the problem. Any proposal to change regulation within NCC needs to address a clearly identified problem.

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Voice over: To be clear, in this case identifying the problem is primarily about identifying the level of unmet need for accessibility features in housing. There is a figure going around at the moment, that I think comes from Livable Housing Australia, who estimate that five percent of houses meet the Livable Housing Design Guideline, either Silver, Gold or Platinum specification. However, that is not to say that the other ninety-five percent of homes are inaccessible.

Within that other ninety-five percent of homes, there will be some that have been modified by their occupants in a particular way. There are some that will be covered through the NDIS, or other government assistance programs for home modification. There will be some where the owners have the means to modify their home to suit their needs without any assistance and there will be a proportion of which are inappropriate for their occupants.

The Australian Network on Universal Housing Design did some work earlier this year which included an online survey. That online survey in its results suggested that there is a level of unmet demand for accessibility features in housing. That survey is available on the ANUHD's website. However, while that survey is useful, we do need more information and evidence if we're going to be able to justify a regulatory change.

Therefore, part of the consultation exercise that we're undertaking at the moment is to reach out to the community for that information. We don't have all the answers and we are relying on people to tell us about their experience and about what information and evidence of research they might be aware of that may be of some use to us in this project.

[Presentation slide changes to: Project Objective]

Voice over: So now we'll talk a little bit about the project objective. The first part of the project objective goes to the definition of what we actually mean by Accessible Housing.

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Voice over: I've got a quote here on the slide, which is also in page four of the Options Paper and I'm going to read that quote now.

"Accessible Housing is any housing that includes features to enable use by people either with a disability or transitioning through their life stages".

Now as you can see it's quite broad rather than being too focused on disability. Hence the emphasis is on people, it's an inclusive use of the word its addressing all people. So this project really is quite broad and covers more than just disability.

[Presentation slide changes to: Project Objective (cont.)]

Voice over: Now the policy objective, and again this is another quote from the Options Paper this time from page 13. I'll read it out.

"The Objective of setting an accessibility standard through the NCC is that people have access to housing with a minimum level of accessibility features across a greater choice of accommodation options".

Now that, that is our, that's our policy objective for this project. The project objective is to identify whether or not changing the NCC would deliver a net societal benefit and would meet that policy objective.

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[Presentation slide changes to: Related Objectives]

Voice over: Now this next slide covers a few, what we call related objectives. These are other areas that we will take into account in considering whether or not to recommend a change to the NCC. However, these are areas that are not specifically within the remit of the ABCB itself.

So one of these is the National Disability Strategy 2010 to 2020 that I mentioned earlier. It's the responsibility of the Disability Reform Council. However, the change to the NCC may have some impact on whether some of the targets set within that strategy will be met.

Another one is enabling aging in place, or what some people refer to as downsizing. It is possible that having more accessible housing through the NCC will enable more people to stay within their own home for longer, and therefore delay the need to move into aged care.

Look another aspect of it is also reducing social isolation, or visitability. While there is a benefit in housing being more accessible for the occupant, it is also a benefit there for people with the disability seeking to visit their friends and family if their houses also easier to go into and to move around in.

While these are all indirect benefits that could come about as a result of a change to the NCC, they will still be captured within the RIS process. It is important to note that this project is separate from the National Disability Strategy. This project is being taken being undertaken at the request of Building Ministers. It is not specifically part of any agreement under the National Disability Strategy.

I should also note too, that the ABCB is separate from the National Disability Insurance Agency. We manage the NCC, we do not have a role in the rollout or implementation of the NDIS.

[Presentation slide changes to: Project Scope]

Voice over: A little bit now about the project scope. So the key point here is that this project is to undertake a Regulation Impact Assessment. It is not a project to change the NCC until we are directed to do so by governments.

The Livable Housing Design Guidelines, Silver and Gold Levels, are the two options that we've been asked by Ministers to consider as a possible accessibility standard for housing.

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However, other options can also be identified through consultation. Therefore, another key purpose of this Options Paper and its related consultation process, is to help us identify other feasible options that could be considered through the RIS process. The project scope has been agreed by Building Ministers.

[Presentation slide changes to: Project Scope (cont.)]

Voice over: Now the NCC uses a system of what we call 'Building Classifications' as a way of classifying different types of buildings according to their use. It's important to note this because building classification terminology will become more prominent and will be used more and more as this project progresses. So I'm going to explain some of it now that's relevant to the scope of this project.

So houses, townhouses, terraces, units, any type of dwelling other than one that is on top of another dwelling is what we refer to as a Class 1a building. These are the first part of the scope of the project of building types that we are looking at for an accessibility standard.

The other, is apartment buildings. So this is any dwelling that is on top of another one; these are what we call Class 2 buildings. These are being included in the scope of this project because these two classes of building and not covered by the access to Premises Standards under the Disability Discrimination Act, which apply to most commercial, public and other types of buildings.

[Presentation slide changes to: Project Scope (cont.)]

Voice over: So this slide lists a few other building types and their relevant NCC classifications that are already covered by the NCC Accessibility Provisions.

These include boarding houses and hostels or Class 1b; the common areas in apartment buildings, the outside of the individual units; hotels and motels, which are class 3; as well as aged care buildings, which are Class 9c. These buildings are already covered by the Premises Standards, therefore are not within the scope of this project.

[Presentation slide changes to: Project Timeline]

Voice over: Now the project timeline. 2018 we've released the Options Paper for comment and we're undertaking a series of National Consultation Forums to support that Options Paper. These will lead to the production and release in 2019 of an Outcomes Report. The Outcomes Report will document what we've learned and the insights that we've gained through the Options Paper and that consultation process and will give us a foundation for beginning the Regulation Impact Statement, which will also begin in 2019.

The ABCB has actually set out a timeline document, which there's an image of on your slide. That timeline document is available from our website,

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Voice over: Now continuing along the timeline. In 2020 the RIS process will continue. It is quite a significant and complex piece of work, hence it's continuation into 2020. But following that, there is the development of content for the 2022 edition of the National Construction Code if we were directed to do so by governments. Should that occur, consultation on the NCC 2022 public comment draft would include any draft provisions for accessibility in housing.

Following that process, there will be a decision made by governments on whether or not the inclusion of an accessibility standard for housing proceeds for NCC 2022. If so, it's the Board that will determine the NCC provisions if governments decide to proceed.

In 2022, the 2022 edition of the NCC would take effect in all states and territories on the 1st of May.

[Presentation slide changes to: Regulation Impact Analysis]

Voice over: Now I'm going to tell you a little bit more about the Regulation Impact Analysis process that I've mentioned a few times throughout this presentation. It runs through a series of stages, the first of which is identifying the problem, objectives and options. A lot of that's going to happen through this Options Paper and the consultation forums.

Following that, there is a process of impact analysis. Now impact analysis can include a few different methodologies, but here's three of the main ones that we use. So we try and quantify the costs and benefits, wherever possible. We look at business compliance costs and we also consider restrictions on competition.

Ways that we can do this can include economic modelling, sensitivity analysis; just to briefly explain that concept, sensitivity analysis is where we test different assumptions and scenarios through that economic modelling process to see how the outcome will change depending on different assumptions. Case studies were also another important part of impact analysis. They can be particularly useful for situations or proposals where there's not enough data or where there are a lot of intangible costs and benefits that need to be considered.

All RIS documents, produced by the ABCB, are subject to independent review from the Office of Best Practice Regulation which sits within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

[Presentation slide changes to: Regulation Impact Analysis]

Voice over: So the RIA process includes the preparatory work to define the problem, refine options and undertake early consultation. As I mentioned, that's what we're in the process of now, and then the Regulation Impact Statement document which is documentation of the outcomes of that RIA process.

RIS documents have two stages. The first is a consultation stage where a version of the RIS is released publicly for comment on the methodology, conclusions, recommendations and other aspects of that document. The responses from stakeholders through that consultation process are then brought together and reviewed and used to develop a revised RIS, which is what's called a decision RIS; sometimes also referred to as a final RIS.

I should note too that the advice in an RIS document, even in a decision RIS document, is not binding. It is advice to governments and decision makers can take other factors into account or make a decision different from that recommended by the RIS.

That's just a small overview of the information about the RIS process that's available on our ABCB website,

So that concludes the first part of our presentation as part of the Accessible Housing National Consultation Forums. The second part of the presentation will cover the Options Paper and how you can have your say on the Options Paper.

Part two

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[Presentation slide changes to: Options Paper]

Voice over: Okay, this is the second part of the ABCB's Accessible Housing National Consultation Forums webcast. In this section I'll be covering the Options Paper and how you can have your say.

So a little bit about the Options Paper first. The Options Paper, which we released in September this year, is a preliminary menu of options and costings on the possible inclusion of an accessibility standard for housing within the NCC.

The Options Paper includes some preliminary costings that we have had estimated for us by a qualified Quantity Surveyor. However, these costs are estimates only at this stage. They are preliminary and they do not, in and of themselves, comprise a Regulation Impact Statement. The purpose of the Options Paper is to seek broad community input which will enable us to develop and refine the options that will be considered through that formal RIS process.

Comments on the Options Paper will close by Friday the 30th of November 2018. You can access a copy of the Options Paper through the ABCB website at….

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[Presentation slide changes to: Options for NCC change - Overview]

Voice over: So the options we've developed so far are based on the Silver and Gold Level specifications of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. Option One is a version of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines, or LHDG, Silver Level with five of the elements that are included in those guidelines included in Option One.

In Option Two, we go to the LHDG Silver Level, as printed, so that is the full seven elements that are included within that part of the guideline. Option Three is based on the LHDG Gold Level specification. It has 12 elements and these I'll go through over the next slides.

I should, however, mention that the LHDG is just one model. Other ideas are welcomed and it's open to us to vary from what's in the LHDG or propose other directions. The RIS process must consider all feasible options and that's why we're looking to identify those as much as we can at this stage of the project.

[Presentation slide changes to: Options for NCC change - Details]

Voice over: So this slide gives you an overview of Option One. Option One includes a step-free entrance door; wider internal doors and corridors; a toilet on the ground or entry level; bathroom and shower layout designed for easy access, with bathroom and toilet walls able to support the installation of grab rails when needed.

Now you'll see on the sixth row down it has the step-free path from street/garage to dwelling entry with an asterisk next to it. Now what that asterisk means is that under Option One that step-free pathway from the street or garage to the dwelling entry would not be required for Class 1a housing. This is because that element is external for the building, so it's not as difficult to install later on as some of the other accessibility features, for example changing the layout of the bathroom. For Class 2 buildings the step-free pathway is generally already covered through the existing Premises Standards requirements that apply from the building entrance to the unit doors on at least one floor of units and any form of units that are served by a lift.

On the seventh row, where it refers to stairways designed to reduce the likelihood of injury, you'll see the letters NCC included under Option One. What that means is that the current provisions of the NCC are already equivalent to those specified in the LHDG Silver level specification. Therefore those provisions would not change under Option One.

[Presentation slide changes to: Options for NCC change - Details]

Voice over: You can see now that another column has been added to the table. So that column gives an indication of the difference between Option One and Option Two. It is a subtle difference, but nonetheless an important one. In particular the difference is that if under Option Two that step-free pathway requirement from the street or garage to the dwelling entry would be included as part of the requirements. This would apply to houses and apartments other than where it's already required.

So this would cover, for houses that have a step-free pathway from either the property boundary or the garage and for apartments it would require a step-free path from the building entrance or car parking space to all apartments, not just those on a floor served by a lift.

Again, the requirements for stairways under Option Two in the NCC are already equivalent to those in the LHDG. Hence the NCC letters have been included in that column.

The NCC does not specify parking requirements for residential buildings in terms of the minimum number of spaces per unit, or anything like that. That's done through local planning laws. However, where parking is provided as part of a new residential development, the NCC would apply to any structure that contains those parking spaces and the access to and from that structure.

Now we have Option Three which is based on the LHDG Gold level specification.

[Presentation slide changes to: Options for NCC change - Details]

Voice over: Option Three introduces five additional requirements to those covered in Options One and Options Two. These are a kitchen space that's designed to support ease of movement or later adaptation; space on a laundry space similarly designed to support ease of movement and adaptation; space on the ground or entry level that is suitable for a bedroom; light switches at easy to reach heights; and door hardware at easy to reach heights.

So this is the LHDG Gold Level as printed in the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. It includes quite a few new areas that would be new for the NCC as well. To give you a couple of examples - while the NCC currently requires kitchens to be provided within Class 1a and Class 2 buildings, it doesn't include any specifications about their layout. So that would be a new area for the NCC. Similarly with laundries, although noting that where a common laundry is provided in a Class 2 building, it would already be covered by the Premises Standards because it's a common area. Similarly for the space used as a bedroom, the NCC currently does not actually specify how many bedrooms should be provided or include any requirements as to their sizing. So this would need to be covered within the NCC if Option Three were adopted.

[Presentation slide changes to: Application]

Voice over: Alright so a little bit about the application of an accessibility standard for housing if it were to be included in the NCC. The first thing to note is that it would apply to new buildings only, noting that it's up to the state and territories to define what is new building work. It would not be retrospective. It would not apply to existing buildings and it would be up to states and territories to determine when this aspect of the NCC would need to be complied with for extensions and renovations, as it varies from one jurisdiction to another when the project hits a threshold at which it needs to be brought up to standard with the current NCC.

Again, it's important to note that any standard applied through the NCC needs to be cost-effective and proportional.

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Voice over: This includes consideration of how broadly it is applied, whether it is applied to all new housing or whether it is applied to new housing with some level of concessions for circumstances where compliance may be difficult or impractical. This will be discussed in a little bit more detail on the next slide.

[Presentation slide changes to: Application (cont.)]

Voice over: So in setting an accessibility standard for housing within the NCC, we need to work through some important issues around how that standard would apply. The first is how it would apply on steeply sloping sites or narrow sites. These can raise issues because for steeply sloping sites it may require a lot of, a lot of ramping to make the step-free path and on narrow sites, there can be situations where there are no habitable rooms on the ground floor of the dwelling, meaning that there would need to be either a lift or stairs to get to the first floor of habitable rooms. In some cases, sites can be quite small. Again, making it difficult to provide that step-free pathway within a quite constrained front yard space.

In some areas, for example flood hazard areas, there are existing requirements that make it necessary for the floor of the house to be set quite away up off the ground. It's not always possible or appropriate to build in a slab-on-ground style. So again, we need to work through the issue of how this would affect the application of an accessibility standard, especially in terms of how we provide access to the front door or to an alternative entrance door for each dwelling.

We also need to consider the impact on smaller apartment developments, what are sometimes called three-story walk ups. These are apartment blocks that don't have an elevator as part of the building. Under the current requirements the accessibility provisions for common areas and to the front door of each unit apply on the ground floor of these buildings. If it were to be applied on the upper floors as well and within each, inside each unit, then this may have an impact on the need for an elevator in these types of buildings.

It's worth noting that the Livable Housing Design Guidelines go some way to addressing these issues and they do include a concession for sites with a grade steeper than one to 14. If concessions were made through an accessibility standard in the NCC, they would be for specific aspects of the standard rather than a blanket exception from all requirements simply because compliance with one or two is not practical.

Working through these issues also helps us establish what is an effective and proportional response.

[Presentation slide changes to: Have your say]

Voice over: Now as I mentioned earlier the ABCB's Options Paper on Accessible Housing is currently available on our website and is open for comment until Friday the 30th of November 2018.

If you would like to provide a response to that Options Paper, we've provided a series of consultation questions at the back which you can use if you would like to fill those out in a survey form. Alternatively, those questions are not mandatory and you're welcome to comment on any other aspect of the Options Paper that will put the comment in a way that you would most like to do. Responses to the Options Paper can be delivered one of two ways; you can either email them to, or you can post them to the Australian Building Codes Board at GPO Box 2013 CANBERRA ACT 2601.

I should make a couple of comments too about how to submit your responses, just regarding a couple of comments about how to submit your responses, If there is any part of your response that you would like to kept confidential, please mark it accordingly. While we do not publish the responses we receive, if they are not marked confidential we may cite all or part of those responses in a later document such as the

Regulation Impact Statement.

If responding by email please ensure you attach all supporting documentation. Do not send links to cloud document sharing services, for example Google Documents. For security reasons we cannot access documents in these systems.

Lastly, I just want to say that the consultation process that we are going through is about information gathering. It's an exercise in gathering insights, information, evidence, research, lived experience and anything else that may help us develop a strong, worthwhile set of options to be considered through the RIS. The process is not a polling exercise. It's not about counting the numbers for or against any particular option, it's about gathering information.

[Presentation slide changes to: Thank you]

Voice over: So we look forward to your responses coming in by Friday the 30th of November.

Thank you for your time and to stay up to date with this project and everything else the ABCB is doing, please visit our website, or follow us on our social media channels, the said symbols for which are at the bottom of the slide.

Thank you.