When the world tries to break you

We always knew it was a risk, that some idiot could assault a parking campaigner one day. Even though I’m always careful to assess the level of aggravation & not push my luck. What I didn’t expect was someone to be so furtive in their actions to make an assault look like an accident.

I’d only just returned from a meeting about access issues at a local library. l was excited about the opportunity to tell people how I had approached it to resolve it in hope of setting an example. When you advocate you are often acutely aware of the general lack of knowledge on how to initiate change and in a world of social media, good old slacktivism.

It was a win and I was glad to see the eagerness to make the improvements.

Sadly that was where the joy stopped.

Returning to my car I received a call that was disappointing but not unexpected on an issue involving the very spot I was parked. Whilst on the phone I watched the woman in her little Corolla reverse into the space next to my car and shook my head. It’s painted with white diagonal lines. This is called a painted island. It is there to allow people to access the vehicle in the disability bay, particularly as it has a footpath access ramp. There is also a parking restriction sign with an arrow showing that between the sign and the end of the curb, it is a parking zone for disability parking permit holders.

Apparently this is not clear enough for people. Today was no ordinary day though. Once or twice a week I help out a young mum, minding one of her two babies so she has a bit less hassle getting her school day done. I admit I do it more for me than her because despite how exhausting it is on me they really bring much needed brightness to my week.

So today just happened to be the day I had young master almost 2. I like taking the kids out with the pram. People don’t stare like they do when I have a walking stick or walker. I blend in. Getting them from the pram to the car is a challenge but together we manage. It’s almost like they know they need to help me.

I didn’t say a word to the woman, I just awkwardly hoisted him out of the pram but in the process, knocked it over. The handle of the pram hit the wheel of the illegally parked car. l lifted the pram and returned to trying to buckle the child seat harness.

Have you ever seen someone with Parkinson’s try to do up a seat belt? Try threading a needle. With silly string. Drunk.

It was 2.55pm. I take my next medication dose at 3. This was not going well.

When I accomplished that mission I stepped back and my foot got caught on the pram knocking it over again. As I picked it up, the driver got out of her car and told me, “stop hitting my car!”

It wouldn’t have been an issue if she wasn’t illegally parked and I told her so. So began the no I’m not yes you are argument and I’m growing very tired of having it.

If you don’t know simple parking rules then perhaps you shouldn’t be driving.

She informed me she was calling police and began taking photos of my car. I got out one of our new brochures but when I attempted to give it to her she got in her car and wound up the window. I put it on the windscreen and told her to get educated.

It’s what happened next that will shock you.  She opened her car door, not hard enough to hit me, but more in an action that once it made contact with me, gave me a little shove.

I HAVE BLOODY PARKINSON’S DISEASE!!

If a day goes by I don’t lose my balance and fall I celebrate. Yes that little shove that seemed so innocent was enough to push me off balance and I landed ass first in the garden.

That wasn’t the worst of it. No apology or offer to help me up. She yells out “Oh come on, you walked into my door.”

While I was on the ground do my best turtle on it’s back maneuvers to get up, she takes the brochure from the windscreen and goes and throws it in my pram. Icing on the cake was the teenage girl she was picking up from school yelling at me “It’s not a disabled space.”

I hope she isn’t getting her licence anytime soon.

I’ve been to police but as per the previous post with no liaison for people with disabilities I’m not expecting any miraculous change in the parking behaviour of the drivers around North Lakes anytime soon. It was also apparent police were aware of the problem in that specific area and also of this campaign.

Ten bucks says no one is patrolling the area tomorrow.

Not that I can be arsed going out again. Between this and my car being keyed last week, I’m just over it. I don’t want your damn inclusion. I’ve got internet. I will survive.

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  • might I add, its not the first conversation I’ve had with this driver about this space.

 

 

Why we need Police Liaisons for the Disability Community

Police liaison officers are an important roll to both the service and to the community. Particularly for specific community groups who can often feel isolated or segregated from the general community. When we have community groups like this, they become less likely to report crimes against them.

Police Liaison Officers are employed by the Queensland Police Service to establish and maintain a positive rapport between culturally specific communities and the Queensland Police Service. The role of Police Liaison Officers is to promote trust and understanding through their liaison role by assisting the community and police to:

  • reduce and prevent crime;

  • divert people from the criminal justice system;

  • advise and educate police officers on culture and cultural issues; and

  • improve community knowledge of  law and order issues and policing services.Source: QPS Website

 

Throughout this campaign despite our continuous efforts to engage and work with law enforcement agencies, the general feedback we’ve had from the community is that Police don’t take our issues seriously enough. They’re overloaded with bigger issues to deal with and things like disability parking are way down the list of priorities unless you come across extraordinary officers such as Senior Constable Christie May of Queensland Police who has been our strongest advocate.

Fear of being able to communicate with police effectively is also another concern that has been raised amongst the disability community which needs to be addressed.

It’s certainly not that the disability community feels any crime committed against them is more important than the same happening to anyone else, but that they are less likely to report it for a number of reasons. By having liaisons who have been trained in communicating with people with disabilities and understanding the issues they face, it makes that community of people trust the person they speak to more without fear of judgement or being treated less significantly.

The statistics of crimes where people with disabilities are the victim are outrageous when the unreported incidences are included. Some examples are:

There is growing evidence that women with a disability are more likely to experience violence. For example, 90% of Australian women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse. (Source:  Woman With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), 2004)

Disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to experience hate crimes. And perpetrators are more likely to receive leniency in sentencing if the victim is a disabled person. (Source: http://wwda.org.au/issues/viol/viol1995/hate/)

People with disabilities are being routinely denied the basic human right of access to justice. (Source: http://apo.org.au/research/beyond-doubt-experiences-people-disabilities-reporting-crime)

People with an intellectual disability are almost three times more likely than those without a disability to be victims of physical assault, sexual assault and robbery. (Source: http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/tandi_pdf/tandi060.pdf)

It is well documented that people with disability, especially girls and women with disability, are over-represented as victims of crime. People with disability are more likely to be victims of violence, fraud and sexual assault. They are also more likely to experience multiple episodes of all forms of abuse and neglect. (Source: http://www.pwd.org.au/issues/preventing-violence.html)

 

So it’s about time. Lets start asking the Police Minister in every state to appoint

Police Liaison officers for people with disabilities in Australia.*

Share the link to this post with your State MP, the Minister for Police/Emergency Services

and the Police Commissioner.

 

*Victoria recently began an inquiry into the handling of disabled victims of crime after a report identified high number of cases being mismanaged and as a result Disability Liaison officers are being trained.

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