Back to Mythbusting

This year, while I am working mostly with my local community to develop ways to build better, inclusive communities, I plan to dedicate my time to helping bust some of the myths I have seen in my time since starting the No Permit No Park Campaign here in Australia. Some of the myths are old ones that have been perpetuated over and over but some have surfaced more recently due to a lack of information or clarification of information. The fault doesn’t entirely lay with the people sharing it. Disability Anti Discrimination law in Australia is deeply fragmented and mostly useless. It exists but breaking it is of little consequence (unless you’re disabled with a law degree and lots of time on your hands to push the issue through the process).

We’ve done some mythbusting before and much of it was due to common misinformation or questions asked by the public. If you have a question please feel free to ask. Best method is probably to contact me directly by email via fridayology@gmail.com so that I get it directly and can respond publicly. You will of course remain anonymous if you ask a question. I want to share the responses publicly because chances are if you’re asking, someone else is also wondering, so we can share it with more people and educate the community.

One of the things that I intend to address is the responsibility of disability parking inclusion and enforcement as it is one of the most difficult areas to understand due to the fact that it is covered by three levels of government and five areas of legislation.

I’ve spent the last three years studying the Access to Premises Standards and Disability Discrimination Act in Australia to better understand how they work and how they should be applied. We are all aware how much time we can waste complaining to people who have no jurisdiction or power to act on the issue. We need to refine that in Australia so that it is easier to raise discrimination issues and have them addressed…. with an actual consequence. The first step to refining the process is to understand how it works. After three years of study, and I don’t claim to be a genius but I’m not incapable of learning these things, I am still struggling to grasp how the process was intended to be successful when applied. There are so many ifs, buts, maybes and exemptions written into the legislation it makes it impossible to hold anyone accountable for discrimination against people with disabilities.

One thing I can tell you is that rest assured here in Queensland at least, I have badgered all levels of government and all objective departments into taking this more seriously than they have in the past and as a result we’ve seen some positive changes and progress. Still in almost four years, we’re still fighting the same battles. I’m still putting out spot fires while the wildfire rages away from me. This has a great deal to do with the continual changes in all levels of government. No sooner do I get through to one group, there’s an election and I have a whole new group of attitudes to change.

So stay tuned in 2017. I hope that I will be able to give you the tools and the encouragement you need to be a powerful advocate in your community. If nothing else I have learned that when a community identifies you as one of theirs, they respect your views much more than someone they may never meet.

Image: cartoon graphics of people shapes with conversation bubbles above them.

No more putting up with it.

We are done.
Done with being a silent many. Every voice rings out and carries. No we won’t just go back. Home without you hearing. The sound when the many say, we are done. – The Madden Brothers

Keep fighting the good fight.

Friday.

If something is blocking disability access – Key It

The Key Concept

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s ridiculous. Disability Access including parking is often mistaken for convenience when to those with mobility needs it’s a necessity. It’s about dignity and inclusion. It’s so frustrating when you’re trying to wheel your chair along a footpath and bang in the middle is a car. No safe way around. You’re blocked. Well now you can just KEY the car and they’ll get the message!

It’s not about vandalism. What we want you to do is help raise awareness in the community when people place vehicles or other objects in the way of disability access. You can do this by putting on of our Key notices on the vehicle or object. The notice directs people to a page where we try to educate them about the importance of access for an inclusive community and encourage them to play a role in being inclusive.

PLEASE NOTE:
No Permit No Park is an educational campaign that seeks to raise awareness and improve the lives of people with disabilities through community accessibility. We do not promote, condone nor encourage vandalism of property at any time. People should be aware though that their obstruction of access can result in the causation of accidents including falls and wheelchair tips. These accidents can result in incidental damage to property but more importantly it can cause serious injury to a person with access needs.

Join the campaign today and print out a copy of our Key Notice. Click here to see the Keyed information page.

keyed

click on the image and then print from your computer

 

Tow It! – The App

I’m excited to announce a new partnership with No Permit No Park!

For a while I’ve been searching for an app to assist us with the No Permit No Park Campaign. There are plenty of parking reporting apps but the issue I’ve faced is that they all have the goal of reporting an offence that very few of our enforcement authorities will recognise as evidence to act upon.

TowIt is different in that it maps the offence which allows me (and hopefully in the future other interested parties who want to make a change for the social good of inclusive communities) to look at areas that have high offences reported and mark them as “hotspots”. I can then use this information to provide to enforcement authorities to encourage them to find solutions to the problem that may be causing it, even if it is increasing patrols and issuing infringements.

After many weeks of emailing back and forth and making plans, falling to sleep watching terrible TV shows and having my manic unpredictable life get in the way, I finally had the opportunity last night to stay up late and have a Google Hangout with the founders of the app to discuss what vision I have for it here in Australia.

Based in Toronto Canada, Gregory and Michael came up with the idea for TowIt through the same frustrations as most of us at No Permit No Park. Selfish people blocking roads and access for others. They’re currently working on an update of the app soon to be released and I was very excited to hear that some of the suggestions I had will be included to make it work better here for us. I’m looking forward to working further with these guys, their vision fits in with our goal of accessible and inclusive communities and they have the drive to find solutions to any issues.

So help me out to start producing data I can use by downloading the app and start using it to report disability parking offences. It currently only allows one photo to be taken so try to make it a shot of the car with the rego clear and the disability sign or road marking where ever possible. Future updates will allow you to tag #NoPermitNoPark in the report so that we can log the number of incidences and search them, and they’re hoping to include the option of multiple photos, not that it is the most significant detail right now as my priority is building hotspot maps rather than individual reporting.

This app could go much further here in Australia in being a solution for owners of non government parking facilities to request towing services to remove vehicles they’re legally allowed to remove. The TowIt team are also planning to include an option where users can sign up and be notified if their vehicle has been reported.

“Whether the vehicle is towed, or the owner moves it, the result is that the obstruction is cleared allowing roads to be used freely even if an infringement isn’t issued, which is a better outcome for everyone.” – Michael McArthur Co-founder of Towit

So please go to their website or search the app in your phone’s app store and lets make Australia their biggest user base!
https://towit.io/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/towit/id959413790?ls=1&mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.towit

And don’t forget to like them on Facebook! Share the love!
https://www.facebook.com/towitapp?fref=ts

 

The Exclusive Discrimination Club

It’s not unusual to be excluded or even feel excluded from areas of our society. Sometimes there are things we’d rather not be included in. Making the choice to exclude yourself is exactly that, your choice. When you are excluded because someone else makes that decision, we enter the still rather grey area of discrimination.

As an advocate for Inclusive Communities I am often confronted with issues of exclusion that need to be dealt with. Educating the community is quite a challenge especially as the human race is quite a tribal species. We form our groups and sub groups and not everyone has the capacity to easily transfer from one group to another. We don’t need to be a part of every group or community however access to these communities is the key issue. Of course with great power comes great responsibility. To have access to our community we have a list of legislated rights.

For those of us who live here on planet earth, we have what is referred to as human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. It sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to all people and has become a foundation document that has inspired many legally-binding international human rights laws.

The Australian Government has agreed to uphold and respect many of these human rights treaties. The categories in which our human rights are divided are:

Civil and political rights | Economic, social and cultural rights | Rights of indigenous people | Women’s rights | Children’s rights | Disability rights | Rights of older persons | Sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex

Naturally I vast amount of the work I do involves disability rights. With one in five Australians living with either a permanent or temporary disability, you’d expect that our communities would be more understanding and inclusive of disability issues. Sadly though we still find day to day cases of unfair treatment and exclusion of people based on their disability or impairment. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 protects individuals across Australia from unfair treatment in many parts of public life. This means that in Australia, disability discrimination unlawful. The purpose of the act is to promote equal rights, equal opportunity and equal access for people with disabilities.

So what happens when you’re faced with a situation where you are excluded? To determine whether or not it is discriminatory is not always black and white. As the way we live our lives continues to evolve, these rights need to evolve with us to ensure we are always protected.

Many people enjoy the access to online socialising. Whether it is social media sites, communication through Internet protocols, or just accessing information, we all have the opportunity to access it. Social groups and community forums have become a significant part of Internet socialising. The funny thing about the Internet is that being digital, once it’s out there, it’s out there. Getting it back is very difficult. So everything we say and do online is at a risk. Understanding how to use this great power responsibly is often one of those things people just have to learn through life’s lessons. A bit like running across a lawn without shoes on. You discover prickles one time. You learn a lesson. After that you make a choice based on your knowledge from experience whether next time you run across the lawn you go to get your shoes first or not.

I’m guilty of letting my emotions get the better of me on the Internet for all to see. I’m a big girl though, I can stand up to the misuse of my great power (rights) and make apologies where appropriate or in the very least, give explanations (responsibility). I always like to offer a person the opportunity to learn from any unfortunate event that happens.

So what happens when someone creates an online forum designed to attract people from a certain community, but selects to exclude specific people?
Exclusion must not be discriminatory.

In 2007, the United Nations passed a new law: people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. If we want to catch the bus we should be able to catch the bus. Telling us we should use another service because they don’t want to provide the assistance we require to catch the bus is discriminatory.

If we want to be involved in community discussion about issues and events happening in our neighbourhood in an online forum, we have the right to that. To tell us we cannot share our views because someone has a different opinion is discriminatory.

Twice so far this year I’ve been excluded from local community group pages on Facebook.
On the first occasion it was one called the Riverwood Murrumba Downs & surrounds Community Group. The sole administrator Jaimie Mulders seemed to have taken offence to a comment I made about someone who had allegedly harmed an animal needing psychological help. While I understood her response the last thing I wanted to see was a community lynch mob after someone who had not even been identified.

jaimie mulders

Of course my very offensive response in between those two comments doesn’t show because I was simply ousted from the group. No notification, no explanation, even on request. Nothing.
What did I say that caused so much offence to be excluded?

“All mental illness should be treated. Firstly with understanding.”

Moral of the story, if you want to be part of Jaimie’s exclusive discrimination club, don’t defend anything to do with mental illness. Oh and the horrible act? Someone found a dead bird on a nail on a copper log. Has to have been a serial killer.

More recently as posted on the NPNP Facebook page, I jumped in to defend the rights of people with disabilities. Mostly from the uninformed, just plain ignorant and those few who still think we need to be hidden away in an institution so we don’t embarrass them.

It was quite the saga of the day. I’ve been a part of the Kallangur & Surrounding Neighbourhood Watch Facebook group for a while. The largest group of it’s kind in my local area (and I try to get across all of them to keep up to date with local issues and events) boasting 3587 members (3588 yesterday) I have been using it to communicate ideas, get feedback and connect with other like minded people in my local community.

A young woman who had posted about her frustrations with a public transport company caught my eye. I identified she was very upset and knew that some of her remarks would easily be taken out of context so immediately I jumped in to offer my assistance to resolve the issue and left my email address. I thought that would be that but the comments that followed were too much to just leave the poor girl to have to defend herself. I made one particular comment in response to something someone had said about her using assisted transport services instead of the bus.

Jaidie is blind. She wants to be independent. She has undergone a lot of training to do so and the public transport charter requires buses to be disability accessible. It wasn’t a one off event, she’s had numerous issues and has become very disillusioned in her quest for independence. It did not seem that the company involved had taken any steps to gain more information from Jaidie about how they can better service her needs. The only option she was given was if it happens again call and make another complaint. Naturally I’m following this up, but that is the part I can manage easily.

While I know some people just want to help, there are often times they don’t realise their suggestions are forcing us back to being dependent and we lose sight of our goal. It also allows our community to continue avoiding development into an inclusive community.

I don’t have a screenshot of my response but it was something to the effect of:
(commenter’s name) why should she have to be forced to use special services just for people with disabilities? (something about the public transport and rights to access legislation blah blah) Why do we keep building playgrounds for children who are abled here while the liberty swing for kids in wheelchairs is all the way…… over there? (that was reference to a specific issue I am dealing with in my local community). No (commenter’s name) Jaidie has just as much right as anyone else to expect to be able to catch a bus. If she wants to catch a bus then she should be able to catch a bus not be told to use a taxi.

The person I replied to accused me of “being so rude” to which I responded that I was not attempting to be rude.

Then, that was it. Expelled. Kicked out, bumped, access denied, computer says no. I was out.

I tried to contact the administrators of the group to ask for an explanation and request to be allowed to rejoin. I didn’t get very far. So Wendy Watkins and Jill Zackeresen get to have victorious reign over excluding me from accessing that community. Not because I was offensive, but because, in their opinion, I was attacking someone. Their opinion.

Now I’m not aware of any cases like this being taken to the Anti Discrimination Commission yet but imagine… just imagine the precedent it would set!

In all honesty though, I don’t really want to be amongst people I constantly have to defend my rights against. So Jaidie and friends are coming to join our community. We fit in here. We get each other.
Enjoy the read. Try not to explode, just laugh, cos at the end of the day that’s all we can do.

message with jill zackerensen

conversation wendy watkins

conversation wendy watkins part 2

 

conversation wendy watkins part 3

 

 

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