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Kevin Newhouse

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

Kevin Newhouse spent 24 years at the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), where he worked tirelessly on the amendment and production of nearly all editions of the BCA, PCA and NCC.

He was awarded the Standards Australia W.R. Hebblewhite Medal in 2018 for his expert contribution to the development of countless Australian Standards.

How did you become involved in standards development? 

My role at the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) over more than 20 years included participation on around 20 Standards Australia committees that produce standards that are referenced in Australia’s National Construction Code. The ABCB produces the National Construction Code, which establishes requirements for safety and health, amenity and accessibility, and sustainability for buildings throughout Australia and relies on around 140 Australian Standards to underpin its technical requirements.

What role have standards played in your career?   

Standards referenced in the National Construction Code play an integral role in Australia’s building and plumbing regulatory systems. They provide solutions that are deemed to satisfy the levels of performance required under these systems. As is the case for anyone involved in the building and plumbing industries, understanding and applying standards are fundamentally important aspects of their working life.

In addition, from a personal perspective, my involvement in Standards Australia’s technical committees has allowed me to work with many knowledgeable and talented people who are experts in their fields. This has been invaluable in my own professional development and career progression.

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

Every standard I have been involved in is important in its own way but there are two that I am particularly proud to have been part of.  

AS 3959, the standard for construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas, has been in existence for many years and is regularly updated as new information and research becomes available following bushfire events. This standard has been fundamental in providing greater resilience of buildings that are constructed in areas that can be subject to the effects of one of Australia’s most devastating forms of natural disasters.

AS 1428.1, the standard for access to buildings for people with disability, underwent a major review to enable it to form part of a Disability Standard established under Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act. It provides technical solutions that allow appropriate and equitable access to and within buildings for all people, while providing certainty for the building and construction industry and people with disability about the characteristics and features to be provided when new buildings are designed and constructed.

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

One thing that I am very grateful for is the chance to have worked with some incredibly talented people who are dedicated to the development of a nationally consistent building and plumbing technical infrastructure for the benefit of the Australian community.  

I have been fortunate to work across all three levels of government over a period of time which saw Australia move from having disparate technical requirements for building and plumbing regulation across States and Territories to a more nationally consistent environment, for the benefit of the Australian community.

What do you think the future of standardisation looks like? 

The demand for standardisation will continue, with an increased focus on international collaboration to support the world economy. Technological advancements seem to be happening at an ever-increasing pace which, in itself, will drive the demand for standardisation activities to support growth areas and new innovations.

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year?

Standards Australia’s centenary year is a chance to reflect on the significant contribution the organisation has made to the Australian community over a long period of time. There are few aspects of our life that are not touched, and made better, by standards.  

The value of the work undertaken, not only by the organisation itself, but also the thousands of volunteers who wilfully give their time and expertise by participating in Standards Australia’s committees, should never be underestimated.

Congratulations to Standards Australia for this incredible milestone!