Opinion

Pram parking spots are an insult to people with a disability

TAKING points from drivers' licences for parking in a disability space makes little sense.

The standard of their driving is not at issue. The offenders are rude, inconsiderate and selfish, but not poor or unsafe drivers.

Advocates for demerit points, including Elisha Wright - of No Permit No Park - say there has been a virtual raid on disability parks, with an increase in people space stealing and the tattlers providing smartphone evidence.

It seems surprising to me that so many succeed at slotting their car where it is not allowed. I have observed a very different chain of events.

Heaven help those able-bodied souls who swoop in on a disability space, hoping for a quick park and an easy getaway.

Like seagulls on a chip, those watching this space home in to challenge and criticise. It is not pretty.

The fair-minded and able-bodied are rightly protective of keeping disability parking spaces for those who need them.

The caring - or at least the nosy parkers and the behaviour police - far outnumber the rude and selfish.

Disabled parking spots.

Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Disabled parking spots. Photo: Alistair Brightman / Fraser Coast Chronicle Alistair Brightman FRA280711disa

Disability spaces are necessary because without them, people with mobility deficiencies would be excluded from libraries, sports facilities, educational institutions and community spaces and for someone with a disability, denying them access is against the law under anti-discrimination legislation.

NSW takes licence points from offenders and slugs them more than $500 for the offence, but other states hit drivers with painful fines of more than $250 and leave their licences untouched.

The immobile but hopeful pay $17.05 to apply for an Australian Disability Parking Scheme permit, which is only meted out under strict criteria.

A person must be deemed by a doctor or occupational therapist to be: unable to walk and always in need of a wheelchair; to have their ability to walk severely restricted by a permanent medical condition; or have their ability to walk severely restricted by a temporary condition they will have for six months or more.

Being a parent is not a disability, and most of us could do with a little extra walking.
Being a parent is not a disability, and most of us could do with a little extra walking.

Very obese people might qualify, but people with severe and healing injuries don't. Neither do the blind, severely intellectually impaired or the very, very sick. It seems incongruous to those on the outside.

Nevertheless, No Permit No Park's Facebook page urges that people check the permit, not the person. They say no person should ever ask questions of another about the nature of their disability.

The permits are for mobility issues, not disability alone, and apparently, the number of people who now qualify for permits has outstripped available spots, so dire is the health and condition of our population.

A solution to the lack of spaces is so obvious, blind Freddy couldn't miss it: give the spaces for "parents with prams" to those with disabilities and take the ones for seniors while you are at it.

The seniors who really need a special park would qualify for the disability permit anyway and I have never understood why parents get special parks, even when I had three kids aged three years and under.

Prams are not the unwieldy contraptions they once were and children need to learn the way of the carpark, not have the carparks moulded around them.

The parks for parents and seniors are a courtesy, not a legal requirement.

And on average, expansion around waists generally suggest that older people and parents of young children need to walk far more than they do, so parking with the herd and getting the legs working would seem advisable.

Disability parks are needed for people to give them equal access to facilities and include them in the community.

Parents and older people should step back for those who can't step out at all.

 

Dr Jane Fynes-Clinton is a journalism lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Topics:  editors picks jane fynes-clinton opinion

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