This is a revamp of an old post lost to the black hole in the internet:
You may be surprised I once advocated for parents with prams parking. Yes! I actually did. I was a young mum who had just moved from a big city to a small seaside town and was horrified to find the local shopping centre’s idea of a baby change room was the hand basin bench and a plastic chair. I breastfed my baby in the middle of the shopping centre and anyone who complained I led them to the women’s toilet and showed them the alternative. One of the issues the town was having was getting young people to stay. There wasn’t much work and not much more to keep them entertained. Nor was there access to facilities and services young families needed. So, that was the start of my campaign to get the town to rethink their strategies for planning and include more family friendly things to keep people and attract more.
Part of that included parents with prams. I actually don’t mind pram parking. In big shopping centres. Shopping centre car parks are notorious for accidents especially ones involving pedestrians. People not watching where they’re walking or driving, busy looking for a parking space, difficult to see amongst the 5000 other obstacles around them. They’re a dangerous place, especially for the disabled and small children. But shopping centre car parks are the only place I think have a need for them. We’re talking car parks where they cram 5000 spaces into the smallest square metre area possible. More spaces more shoppers.
With the inclusion in shopping centres of play equipment and even child minding for children prams parking is an ideal way to attract that customer base.
That’s where it should stop. It is about access and lets face it, they don’t make prams – or cars – like they use to. I watched a young mum of twins recently getting the double pram out of the car. It was a struggle. Seriously I reckon the pram weighed more than she did. If we can do something like this to help make doing the groceries a little easier for these mums and dads, then why not?
However, it should not come at the expense of access for anyone else. Especially people with disabilities. No matter what, you can always get a child out of your car even if you have to park in a normal space. While pram parking is convenient and helpful, parking for disabilities is more than just a convenience. It’s necessary for inclusion. Without accessible areas, people with mobility impairments, particularly those who rely on mobility aides, cannot be included in their community. Exclusion based on a person’s disability is discrimination, hence why, disability access is becoming mandatory through legislation.
Having been a parent who acquired a disability later in life, I can honestly say I was never excluded from my community like I am as a person with a disability. It shouldn’t happen. There’s just no excuse for it.
The legislative protection on disability accessible parking is quite clear and specific. To use a parking space marked for people with disabilities you must first obtain and display the Australian Disability Parking Permit or other government authorised disability parking permit in your state. This is under federal legislation. Most state legislation does require the permit holder to either be getting in or out of the vehicle at some stage while it is parked in the disability accessible parking zone. While not all states specify this we do encourage people to consider asking themselves “Do I really NEED to park here?”. To obtain a permit you must meet the criteria, which for the ADPP is:
- The applicant must be:
- unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair or
- their ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability that you will have for 6 months or more as certified by your doctor or occupational therapist.
Applicants with intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive or sensory impairment alone do not meet the eligibility criteria unless the applicant also has a mobility impairment that impacts on their ability to walk.
This specific criteria and outline of how disability parking can be used is what makes it enforceable.
If we want to make pram parking enforceable it opens a whole can of worms.
Some councils have attempted it in Western Australia. It is very specific although difficult to enforce. The vehicle must have a child occupant in the vehicle that is being transported by a pram or other wheeled child transport under the legislative definition. This would exclude parents who use baby slings, trolleys or pushalong bikes. It would also exclude those who pull up into the pram parking outside the bottle shop with the car full of kids and mum stays in the car while dad runs in. Enforcement only relies on visual observation of the relevant council authority.
Below are some examples of the tried legislation on pram parking. So complaining mums and dads.. you need to consider, before you demand enforcement on the issue…. would you comply every time?
48B A person not being accompanied by a child and using a pram to transport that child at the time shall not stop or park in a parking bay set aside by a “parents with prams” sign.