Why do we have Disability Parking Wars?

It’s not easy to get a disability parking permit these days. Well it seems that way for most of us. I know myself having applied for a temporary permit when I was trying to convince myself my condition was not going to be permanent (Yeah I know, no cure for Parkinson’s but at that stage we didn’t know it was Parkinson’s), having to reapply for a permanent one when I accepted the diagnosis only to have it rejected (don’t go there), and having to apply for an appeal of the decision.

Eventually my permit was granted. As more states move to the nationally recognised Australian Disability Parking Permit Scheme which suggested stricter eligibility requirements, it’s even harder than it ever was to get a permit. As it should be. Permit schemes were designed to provide equitable access for people whose mobility prevents them being able to access places they go in their community. Not just cos your feet get puffy when you do a lap of the supermarket.

You can be forgiven though for believing it’s easier to get a disability parking permit than it is to get a disability parking space.

Reason being that in many regions of our “lucky” country, it’s true.

While the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 outline the minimum requirements for parking spaces in different building classes it’s a very, very rare case that builders or developers or goodness forbid the approving council, remembers the Performance Requirements clause in Part 2 of the legislation…

DP8        Performance requirement

                Carparking spaces for use by people with a disability must be:

                (a)    provided, to the degree necessary, to give equitable access for carparking; and

               (b)    designated and easy to find.

Limitation       Clause DP8 does not apply to a building where:

                         (a)   a parking service is provided; and

                        (b)   direct access to any carparking spaces by the general public or occupants is not available.

Key words here being TO THE DEGREE NECESSARY.

Already, in our ageing population (not because age gives you a permit but because the rate of disability increases with age), on a national level the number of permits current to population outweighs the minimum requirements legislated for parking allocation.

For example….

A shopping centre (class 6 building) must have a minimum of 1 disability parking space per 50 spaces for the first 1000 spaces and 1 per 100 for every space after that. So in a shopping centre with 5000 spaces only 60 or just 1.2% of the total parking will be allocated to disability permit holders. Nationally the percentage of the population that holds a current disability parking permit is more than 4.5%. Not so bad you say?

When we look closer at specific areas it actually gets a little crazy.

Here’s a list of a few selected postcodes in NSW showing the number of disability parking permits currently issued to the population.

Permit holders to population by postcode shown with median age of population in that postcode.

Permit holders to population by postcode shown with median age of population in that postcode.

So lets look at the postcode with the highest percentage 2263 on the Central Coast.
The largest shopping centre in the area (that I could locate with the help of Google Maps) is Lake Haven Shopping Centre.

Lake Haven Shopping Centre boasts 1600 parking spaces. If they stuck with the legislated minimum requirement of disability parking spaces there would be 26. 1 per 50 spaces of the first 1000 spaces is 20 plus 1 per 100 for the next 600 is 6 totalling 26. That is 1.6% of space adequate for people with disability parking permits to park. However the suburb of Lake Haven and it’s neighbours in the 2263 postcode has a whopping percentage of permit holders to population of over 10%.

You know you're disabled when it's easier to get a disability parking permit than it is to find an available disability parking bay.

You know you’re disabled when it’s easier to get a disability parking permit than it is to find an available disability parking bay.

Must make shopping a very interesting exercise around there.

In fact in the whole of NSW we have over 4.7% of the population holding a disability parking permit. More than double the amount of accessible parking spaces available.

And yet we have people without disabilities wondering why we get so cranky about non permit holders using the spaces?

Get a life they reckon? Ha, we’ll try that out… as soon as we can find a park.

Am I eligible for an Australian Disability Parking Permit?

I get asked this question often. “I have (insert syndrome/illness/physical impairment here), would I be eligible for a permit?”

Only the issuing authority can tell you that for certain and they only way to find out is to apply. As a general guide though you should consider the guidelines for eligibility in each state and remember that you will require a medical practitioner to fill out a form describing how your situation impairs your ability to walk or your mobility.

Since 2009 there has been an ongoing and in many opinions, not so successful attempt at harmonising the more than 200 permit types across Australia, through the Australian Disability Parking Permit Scheme. These permits are also known as an ADPP. Information about how to apply in each state is available here. There is also an information video available to watch via YouTube.

Further information is available on the following State and Terriitory websites:

Eligibility Criteria in each state is described as follows:

To be eligible for a mobility parking permit in the ACT a person must:

  • Be unable to walk and/or have pain or difficulty in walking 100 metres;
  • Require the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, a scooter, a wheelchair or other mobility aid; or
  • Be blind.

To be eligible for a Mobility Parking Scheme permit in NSW, you must have a disability. This is defined by legislation as someone:

  • Who is unable to walk due to the permanent or temporary loss of use of one or both legs or other permanent medical or physical condition, or
  • Whose physical condition is detrimentally affected as a result of walking 100 metres, or
  • Who requires the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, scooter, wheelchair or other similar mobility aid.

Mobility Parking Scheme permits are also available to people who are permanently blind. Guidelines for permanent blindness from the Commonwealth Social Security Act 1991 are:

  1. Visual acuity on the Snellen Scale after correction by suitable lenses must be less than 6/60 in both eyes, or
  2. Constriction to within 10 degrees of fixation in the better eye irrespective of corrected visual acuity, or
  3. A combination of visual defects in the same degree of visual impairment as that occurring in points 1 or 2.

Northern Territory does not list the specific eligibility criteria and each council is responsible as the issuing authority for the ADPP. All applications are considered on a case by case basis from the information provided by your medical practitioner.

Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for an ADPP, the applicant must be a Queensland resident and meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
• Must be unable to walk and always requires the use of a wheelchair; or
• Their ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or disability;
• Their ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability.

A temporary medical condition or disability must be of at least six (6) months’ duration, as certified by a doctor or occupational therapist.

Guiding scenarios
Please find below examples of some types of mobility impairments that might be a severe restriction on an applicant’s ability to walk:
• The applicant is unable to walk and always requires the use of a wheelchair.
• The applicant always requires the use of a mobility device (for example, walking frame, elbow crutches). Please note a shopping trolley should not be considered a mobility device.
• The applicant has a severe mobility restriction affecting their ability to carry out basic activities (for example, the applicant cannot walk from a parked car to the entrance of a building such as a shopping centre, bank or medical facility, without stopping several times due to severe pain, extreme fatigue or loss of balance).
• The applicant has a severe mobility restriction as a result of a chronic condition (for example, of the heart, lung or kidneys and relies on portable oxygen to assist them to walk or walking could cause angina and/or heart attack or severe breathlessness).

Important note for the Medical Practitioner
Under law the Registrar of Motor Vehicles must not issue a disability parking permit unless:
• the person has a temporary or permanent physical impairment; and
• their speed of movement is severely restricted by the impairment; and
• their ability to use public transport is significantly impeded by the impairment;
• in the case of a temporary physical impairment, the impairment is likely to endure for more than 6 months but is not likely to be permanent.

Tasmania does not specify the eligibility criteria, however the application form requires information from the medical practitioner including the diagnosis, how the applicant’s mobility is affected, the type of mobility device they use and the frequency of assistance required. Tasmania does not provide temporary membership to their Transport Access Scheme. Applications are only accepted for permanent disabilities.

Victoria has eligibility requirements for two levels and for permanent and temporary permits.

Permanent Disability Parking Permits

Current Victorian Blue Permit
Category One
To be eligible for a category one permit
  • a Medical Practitioner must confirm that an individual has a significant ambulatory disability and they cannot access a vehicle in an ordinary parking bay, or they are required to use a complex walking aid* that prevents access to a vehicle in an ordinary parking bay, or
  • a Medical Practitioner must confirm that an individual has either an acute or chronic illness in which minimal walking may endanger their health, or
  • a Specialist Medical Practitioner or Clinical Psychologist must confirm that an individual is an extreme danger to themselves and others in a public place without assistance by a carer.

*A complex walking aid is defined as an aid which has more than one contact point with the ground.

Current Victorian Green Permit, with reference to Extra Time Only
Category Two
To be eligible for a category two permit:
  • A Medical Practitioner must confirm that an individual has a significant ambulatory disability or severe illness which does not affect their ability to walk, however they require rest breaks when continuous walking is undertaken.

Temporary disability parking permits

Temporary permits will be issued to an individual ability to walk is significantly restricted on a temporary basis and is not likely to improve within six months.


To be eligible for an ACROD (Australian Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled) Parking Permit you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair, or
  • Your ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or disability, or
  • Your ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability.

Similar to QLD and VIC, WA asks the medical practitioner for detailed information about how the applicant’s condition affect’s their mobility.

For any further information please feel free to email us and we will endeavour to assist you with finding it.

Top 3 Reasons Disability Parking Infringements are Waived

Research from data over the past 5 years since the access to premises standards were introduced in Australia has revealed some disappointing facts about disability accessible parking that needs to be addressed. Data from Councils and State authorities has revealed that fines for illegal use of disability parking are contested at an extremely high rate.

The top three reasons these fines are waived are:

  1. Medical Reasons
  2. Permit holder with reason for permit not being displayed
  3. Space did not comply to MUTCD or was not easily identified as a disability accessible parking zone.

The MUTCD or Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides the standards under which parking should be allocated and identified. Each state has their own manual but they are fairly consistent on two things. The space must display the International Symbol of Access and it must be clear and visible from a distance of at least 3m. When signage doesn’t meet the MUTCD standards and it can be deemed not clearly a disability accessible parking zone the recipient of the infringement will often have it waived.

This make enforcement difficult for authorities. Contesting in court can be a costly process particularly when the offender is awarded the fine be overturned and costs paid by the state (or council) prosecution.

Another interesting fact from the Queensland MUTCD is Clause 7.4 that specifies as well as spaces needing to conform to the relevant Australian Standards, the Building Code and The Access to Premises Standards, installation should also take into account the demand for available spaces, proximity of the spaces to the activity to be accessed and ease of access from spaces by a wheelchair. Five years into the legislation we are still seeing too often spaces that are not only non compliant but also non practical. Perhaps if there was more input sought from people with actual lived experience of mobility with a disability rather than engineers and architects this problem could be eliminated.

Back to fines being waived though, the costly process and time wasted in the court system due to the high levels of non compliance in building, we have the issue of deterrence for our authorities to actually issue infringements. Vicious cycle that brings us back to square one leaving us stuck in a society of tokenism where needs aren’t understood or met.


Building access is expensive? Try living with a disability!

While the federal government via the string of unsuccessful Social Services ministers, Kevin Andrews, Scott Morrison and now Christian Porter, continue to demonise people with disabilities as being the burdens of society, Disability Services in Australia are still rubbing their greedy little hands together knowing how expensive it is to live with a disability and seeing us as a commodity rather than a burden. From in home assistance services to providers of mobility aides to home and vehicle modification and technology assistance device developers they’ve all got their sights set on one thing. Our money. We’re necessity spenders. We spend on things we HAVE to have to spare any chance of a decent quality of life in a world that still begrudges having to cater to our needs.

$4000 laser light for people with Parkinson's to use when they have freezing gait. A laser light.

$4000 laser light for people with Parkinson’s to use when they have freezing gait. A laser light.

$200 Cushion to help someone stop rolling over in bed. Yes, $200.

$200 Cushion to help someone stop rolling over in bed. Yes, $200.

Recently on a bus trip back from a fabulous inclusive council event, I found myself in the company of a gentleman who saw fit to ask me what it is I do. Apparently in some circles who you are and what you do is still important. I was there as an invited guest for whatever reason council saw fit to invite me. I didn’t think what I did was important but I indulged his curiosity and told him, “I’m a disability access consultant and advocate for rights of people with disabilities.”

He didn’t really care what I did or who I was, what he was looking for was creating an opening to tell me all about himself and when I didn’t appear impressed, he took the opportunity to belittle what I do.

You see this very self important person was a builder. Apparently one of the biggest builders there is. I’d heard of some of the places he built but I didn’t know him by name which it seemed he expected I should. He asked more detail of what I do so I explained I gave FREE consultation and assessment of existing buildings’ disability access with solutions of how they can improve it or in the very least be more compliant. Yep. I’m that idiot. I’m the one who gives out my services for FREEEEEEEEEEEE. So I clearly cannot be as important as him.

The questions then came. “What are your qualifications?” – I’m self educated with assistance from relevant departments responsible for the relevant legislations.
“Can you read building plans?” – Basic plans yes. I really only need to know where the disability access is going to go and the dimensions.
“What about complex plans?” – Well it’s not really relevant to me to know where the power and water will be running so I don’t need to understand complex architectural diagrams, only the things relevant to access which I can identify.
“Have you ever built anything?” – actually, yes. Our family owned a landscaping business so I’ve built a few things, can you be more specific?

Then came the part I was NOT expecting but it made me realise what is wrong with the world and the obstructions to our battle for inclusive communities?

“Do you know how costly it is to do all that disability access stuff?”

Truth is in the scope of things it doesn’t have to be that costly if you get it right the first time and think about the practicality of it rather than how pretty it should look. Of course when you don’t need disability access it can seem like a complete waste right?

Wait…. what about parents with prams?????? Okay lets remove the controversial parking factor…. for years mothers and others complained about the need for wider entries and ramps and lifts and change areas for babies and seating areas that are NOT toilets because some people just can’t deal with boobs with a baby attached to them. And retailers heard and they saw the potential dollar signs of a return from a target market that wanted to be relieved of their boredom but struggled to find the means to do so. That’s right it had nothing at all to do with inclusion or equity. It was purely a marketing ploy but a very beneficial one to that target market.

Parents spend. Parents have children that need to be spent on. If you have kids, whether you’re getting it from employment or the government you’re getting money and who better to relieve you of that heavy cash but retailers, yaaaaaaay! Ice creams for everyone!

How do we translate this to disabilities? It seems society in general have a misconception people with disabilities have needs but not wants. Why would we want to go shopping? What could we possibly spend money on in a shopping centre. Shouldn’t we be at the mobility aides store? Where is your carer?

We’re viewed as being dependant therefore we couldn’t have an independently controlled income or the desire to want to spend it. But the government says they have to build access so they comply with what they have to and slip a few dollars to the inspector to approve what they think they can get away with.

When it comes to parking it’s no different. When compliance isn’t tough they’ll just slap in a space with a wheelchair symbol on it and call it accessible. It doesn’t work because you can barely see it, it’s not wide enough and it’s right down the very end of the strip way away from the entrance, but we called it accessible so deal with it.

disability parking fail

No. Just no.

Line marking and a bollard is all it takes right? How much does that actually cost? It’s going to vary and of course like any person wanting the best price you need to shop around but here’s a bit of an average…..


Line marking for two bays including the international symbol of access to the required dimensions in the required colouring using top quality material to last up to ten years, plus the shared access space in the middle cost including GST is around $160. A bollard for the shared space – using a standard yellow metal concreted fixture, $350 including installation. So for $510 you have accessible spaces for two cars for almost 10 years. 7 day trading. Average shopping time 2 hours. So that potentially attracts 8 spending customers per day. According to Inside Retail, Australian’s spend on average $141 per person in supermarkets alone. So just two disability accessible parking bays can potentially bring in $410 592 per year. $510 for ten years to gain $4 105 920?

I’d love to show this to that builder and ask how he’d feel about losing $4.1 million a year per double accessible parking bay. Sure you could put in a few more regular bays because they spend too right? But regular old parking doesn’t attract regular shoppers. You’re competing with every other retailer for that market. Besides, those of us who are brave enough to enter a shopping centre car park know there’s always (Christmas Crazies excepted) available regular parking when they are compliant to the building code but still we’re struggling to get proper disability accessible parking.

Make your premises the ultimate shopping experience in accessibility and you’re already winning over that target market that just want to be included. Not just them, but the people in their lives too.

The facts:

  • Almost 4 million Australians have a disability.
  • About 50 per cent of people aged over 55 have difficulty with their mobility, hearing or vision.
  • By 2050 more than 25 per cent of the population will be over 65.
  • If you add families, friends and colleagues the number of people affected by disability is even greater.
Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

Building Inclusive Communities – Access to Premises Standards

What are the Access to Premises Standards?
The Premises Standards, which came into effect on 1 May 2011, aim to provide people with disability with dignified and equitable access to buildings, and provide certainty to industry that they are complying with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

First, the guiding principles of the Premises Standards are the objects of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA), which are:

• to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the basis of their disabilities in various areas, and in particular access to premises, work, accommodation and the provision of facilities, services and land;

• to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as the rest of the community; and

• to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community.

Second, the purpose of the Premises Standards is:

• to ensure that dignified, equitable, cost-effective and reasonably achievable access to buildings, and facilities and services within buildings, is provided for people with disability, and

• to give certainty to building certifiers, developers and managers that if the Standards are complied with they cannot be subject to a successful complaint under the DDA in relation to those matters covered by the Premises Standards.

Third, it is unlawful to contravene the Premises Standards.

Fourth, the Premises Standards specify how the objects of the DDA are to be achieved in the provision of accessible buildings.


One of the most commonly asked questions about the new car parking standards is

This is from the Access to Premises Standards Guidelines:

Note on AS/NZS 2890.6
AS 2890.6 requires a bollard be placed to prevent cars from blocking a shared area at an accessible carparking space. While the standard specifies the location of the bollard it does not include specifications on matters such as height, diameter or luminance contrast. Developers should consider these issues to ensure visibility and to ensure bollards do not encroach on space required by someone getting into or out of their car. Flexible bollards might be considered to reduce the chances of damage to cars.
As with all other areas of compliance achieving Deemed-to-Satisfy compliance with AS 2890.6 in existing buildings may on occasion be difficult because of the existing carpark layout. Suitable Alternative Solutions might be developed to meet the Performance Requirement.

To find out more about how the standards are meant to be applied and other provisions visit:

To view the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 visit:

To view the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (current version) visit:

While these are Commonwealth laws (applied nationally to the whole of Australia) it is important to remember these are minimum standards and may have variations applied by your state or council by-laws, above and beyond the minimum.

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