I’m scraping in closer to the three year anniversary of the campaign and there are some things aside from the actual offences themselves, I just grow really weary of hearing. I can only imagine those who have been doing this longer than me, and living with their disabilities longer than me, must be even more over it than I am, but here is a list of a few things I really wish people would stop saying or doing when it comes to disability parking.
1. Disabled people get the best parking
Newsflash, it’s 2016 and still engineers, builders and architects can’t relate design to practicality. No we don’t get the best parking. It’s not always right in front of the door, quite often it’s waaaaay down the other end of the parking aisle. Or shoved into an alcove somewhere out of the way. It’s rarely ever undercover, because hey, what does it matter if you get wet, you’re already dying anyway right? Our disability parking permits are not a “perk” we get for the “benefit” of being disabled. It’s to allow us equal access to the community.
2. But I’m Only Going To Be A Minute
Oh please rub it in our faces just a little harder. Screw you. It takes majority of us longer than that just to get out of the car. You can walk freely and still be a minute, park elsewhere and use your damn privilege of being able to walk.
3. There are bigger crimes happening than someone parking in a disabled space
No kidding! I mean our lives are so sheltered, what would we know about crime? People with disabilities are only 3 times more likely to be the victims of violent crimes or sexual abuse. Let’s get down to reality here, disability parking is a traffic offence that carries and infringement penalty. Disability Discrimination is a crime and preventing people with disabilities from access to premises is disability discrimination. Of course, it’s no big deal to you until you’re the one who can’t get out of their car or up the stairs right?
4. It’s Not Illegal It’s Just Immoral
WRONG! It’s an offence under the traffic act in each state of Australia to stop in an area marked for people with disabilities without displaying a current valid disability parking permit. The offences carries penalties depending on the state or council that is issuing the infringement and it’s also discrimination. Of course it’s quite acceptable to just be immoral when you walk on past with your perfectly working body while we try to lug our sad sorry and sore bodies who don’t want to play nice with us just to do the shit we have to do.
5. You Can’t Get A Fine In A Shopping Centre Car Park
Ugh. Please don’t start me on the legislation of private property versus privately owned property accessible to the public. There are about a dozen sections of legislation all relevant to this point that say you CAN and you WILL if you break the law. I could list them all for you, but you’d die of boredom. If there wasn’t legislation that said you can get a fine, I’d be the one lobbying to create it! Thankfully I don’t have to because it already exists and there are plenty of people out there who have the infringement notices to prove it. You’re just going to have to trust me.
6. I’m Not Parked
Just waiting for a mate? No, you can’t wait in the disability parking space without a permit and the owner of the permit. The legislation states you must not STOP in an area blah blah you know the rest. Keyword here being STOP. Don’t care if the vehicle is not in park, if the engine is still running, if those wheels have stopped and you’re in the space you’ve committed an offence (unless you immediately reverse out).
7. You’re breaching someone’s privacy showing their number plate in photos
No. We don’t have those kinds of privacy laws in Australia. Commercial media may have to or CHOOSE to for their own legal reasons but no, we can post all the pretty pictures of disability parking space thieves we like and we don’t need to hide the registration number of the car. Registration numbers do not identify a person unless 1. they’re so vain as to have a personalised plate that is easily recognisable to identify that person OR an authorised person has access to the system that provides that information and even then, privacy policies in those relevant departments apply. That said, plenty of people do stupid things in branded vehicles making the whole registration number argument irrelevant.
8. You don’t know what that person’s circumstances were
Really? You want to validate a traffic offence? Well we don’t know what the circumstances were of the speeding driver or the drunk driver but we don’t run around validating their despicable acts. The privileged person who thought their circumstances so mightily entitled them to use the accessible parking that we, the permit holders ARE entitled to use doesn’t know our circumstances that led us to the NEED to depend on accessible spaces, nor do they ever seem to give a shit. Of course if someone were to say (and it has happened), “I’m really sorry, but in my circumstances XYZ it was what I did at the time but it’s not something I normally do or would do again” we say hey, we get that. These things happen. Thanks for respecting the space and your support in the campaign to educate the community. Hope things improve for you. It rarely happens though. Usually they’re just jerks.
9. Get A Life
Oh how ironic. When we’re faced with the very thing that is preventing us from trying to have a life outside of our homes and we dare to complain about it we get told to get a life. Come on you can do better than that surely? I mean isn’t it bad enough you’re wasting all your privileged life away using the accessible facilities designed for people who are not so privileged as to have the benefit of easy mobility, that you feel so obliged to tell them to get a life? Maybe you do need the space after all. I can’t imagine anything more pathetic than you.
10. But you don’t look disabled.
Oh For FARK SAKE! Am I right? Step out of your sheltered world for a moment and learn something about the people in your community. What you think disability LOOKS like and what it actually is are so very far apart that you are an alien to me right now. No, you don’t have the right to ask me what my disability is. I am happy to prove the permit is mine, my name is on the back but no I DO NOT have to tell you what my disability is. No one does. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there and no it’s not “invisible” you just don’t know what the signs and symptoms are. Stop the expectation that all people with disabilities have to look sad, poor, abnormal, deformed, sick, need to be cured, tragic, unable to be independent, unattractive, unlovable and pitiful people sitting in wheelchairs being pushed around by magic carer fairies your “taxes” pay for. If that is the most you expect of someone with a disability I truly hope you never find yourself with one and lets face facts, we’re all only an accident or illness away from life with a disability. We’re not all born like that.
I don’t look disabled? You didn’t look stupid but you opened your mouth and proved me wrong.