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.

Our Emergency Service Vehicle Policy

Under legislation there are a number of exemptions for parking in a disability zone.

 

They include;

  • Tow Truck Drivers
  • Public Buses & Trams
  • Road Construction Workers
  • Oversize vehicles, and
  • Emergency Service Workers

There are conditions under which these exemptions apply of course, it doesn’t mean it’s just a free-for-all in disability parking zones and some additional rules may apply in different states.

We have worked closely with Police, particularly in Queensland to establish better relationships, understanding and cooperation when it comes to disability related issues such as parking enforcement. For this reason as well as the above, we respect their right to investigate allegations of any breach of their policy and procedure when using disability parking. I have contacted Queensland Police Service on a number of occasions when photographs with details have been sent to me and in all cases except for one, police were well within their right to park as they did.

For us to expect Police Services around the country to assist us in this campaign with respect, we need to support them with respect as well.

I appreciate that supporters of the campaign will understand this decision and that any publicly shared photos of exempt vehicles will be removed from our site or social media. If you wish to make a formal complaint to the relevant department for an incident you have observed we are happy to assist you with finding the contact details required. We can no longer make enquiries on your behalf. We don’t have the ability to keep up with the number of complaints. Majority of photos shared are outdated by several years in cases that have already been investigated and dealt with accordingly.

This policy is authorised by
Elisha Wright
Campaign Founder
No Permit No Park

 

You can find the National legislation here
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2006L00240

Part 19               Exemptions

 

305         Exemption for drivers of police vehicles

(1)   A provision of the Australian Road Rules does not apply to the driver of a police vehicle if:

(a)    in the circumstances:

(i)    the driver is taking reasonable care; and

(ii)    it is reasonable that the provision should not apply; and

(b)    if the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving — the vehicle is displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm.

Note   Motor vehicle and police vehicle are defined in the dictionary.

(2)   Subrule (1) (b) does not apply to the driver if, in the circumstances, it is reasonable:

(a)    not to display the light or sound the alarm; or

(b)    for the vehicle not to be fitted or equipped with a blue or red flashing light or an alarm.

306         Exemption for drivers of emergency vehicles

A provision of the Australian Road Rules does not apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle if:

(a)    in the circumstances:

(i)    the driver is taking reasonable care; and

(ii)    it is reasonable that the rule should not apply; and

(b)    if the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving — the vehicle is displaying a blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm.

Note   Emergency vehicle and motor vehicle are defined in the dictionary.

307         Stopping and parking exemption for police and emergency vehicles and authorised persons

(1)   A provision of Part 12 does not apply to the driver of a police vehicle or emergency vehicle if, in the circumstances:

(a)    the driver is taking reasonable care; and

(b)    it is reasonable that the provision should not apply.

Note 1   Emergency vehicle and police vehicle are defined in the dictionary.

Note 2   Part 12 deals with restrictions on stopping and parking.

(2)   A provision of Part 12 does not apply to a driver who is an authorised person driving a vehicle in the course of his or her duty as an authorised person if, in the circumstances:

(a)    the driver is taking reasonable care; and

(b)    it is reasonable that the provision should not apply.

Note   Authorised person is defined in the dictionary.

308         Exemption for police officers and emergency workers on foot

A provision in Part 14 does not apply to a police officer or emergency worker acting in the course of his or her duty if, in the circumstances:

(a)    the police officer or emergency worker is taking reasonable care; and

(b)    it is reasonable that the provision should not apply.

Note 1   Emergency worker and police officer are defined in the dictionary.

Note 2   Part 14 provides rules for pedestrians.

309         Exemption for drivers of trams etc

The following provisions do not apply to the driver of a tram, or a public bus travelling along tram tracks:

  • Part 4 (Making turns), Division 1 (Left turns at intersections)
  • rule 88 (Left turn signs)
  • rule 89 (Right turn signs)
  • rule 90 (No turns signs)
  • rule 91 (No left turn and no right turn signs)
  • rule 92 (Traffic lane arrows)
  • rule 99 (Keep left and keep right signs)
  • rule 100 (No entry signs)
  • Part 9 (Roundabouts)
  • Part 11 (Keeping left, overtaking and other driving rules), Divisions 2 (Keeping to the left), 3 (Overtaking), and 7 (Passing trams and safety zones)
  • Part 12 (Restrictions on stopping and parking).

Note   Public bus, tram and travelling along tram tracks are defined in the dictionary.

310         Exemption for road workers etc

(1)   A provision mentioned in subrule (2) does not apply to a person at the site of, and engaged in, roadworks if, in the circumstances:

(a)    it is not practicable for the person to comply with the provision; and

(b)    sufficient warning of the roadworks has been given to other road users.

Note   Roadworks is defined in subrule (4).

(2)   Subrule (1) applies to the following provisions:

  • Part 4 (Making turns), Division 1 (Left turns at intersections) and Division 2 (Right turns (except hook turns) at intersections)
  • Part 7 (Giving way), except:

–    rule 67 (Stopping and giving way at a stop sign or stop line at an intersection without traffic lights)

–    rule 68 (Stopping and giving way at a stop sign or stop line at other places)

–    rule 69 (Giving way at a give way sign or give way line at an intersection)

–    rule 70 (Giving way at a give way sign at a bridge or length of narrow road)

–    rule 71 (Giving way at a give way sign or give way line at other places)

  • Part 8 (Traffic signs and road markings), except:

–    rule 102 (Clearance and low clearance signs)

–    rule 103 (Load limit signs)

  • Part 11 (Keeping left, overtaking and other driving rules)
  • Part 12 (Restrictions on stopping and parking)
  • rule 224 (Using horns and similar warning devices)
  • Part 14 (Rules for pedestrians), except rule 236 (1) (which is about causing a traffic hazard by moving into the path of an approaching vehicle)
  • rule 264 (Wearing of seatbelts by drivers)
  • rule 265 (Wearing of seatbelts by passengers 16 years old, or older)
  • rule 268 (How persons must travel in or on a motor vehicle)
  • rule 288 (Driving on a path)
  • rule 289 (Driving on a nature strip)
  • rule 290 (Driving on a traffic island)
  • rule 295 (Motor vehicle towing another vehicle with a towline)
  • rule 296 (Driving a vehicle in reverse)
  • rule 297 (2) (which requires a driver to have a clear view of the surrounding road and traffic)
  • rule 298 (Driving with a person in a trailer).

(3)   Rule 20 (Obeying the speed-limit) does not apply to a driver:

(a)    driving a snow-clearing vehicle and engaged in snow‑clearing; or

(b)    driving a motor vehicle and engaged in speed zoning tests authorised under another law of this jurisdiction.

(4)   In this rule:

roadworks means:

(a)    construction or maintenance of a road; or

(b)    road cleaning; or

(c)    installation or maintenance work authorised under another law of this jurisdiction on, above or below a road; or

(d)    installation or maintenance of a traffic control device, traffic-related item or traffic monitoring device; or

(e)    a traffic survey authorised under another law of this jurisdiction; or

(f)    a road surface survey test.

Note 1   Traffic control device and traffic-related item are defined in the dictionary.

Note 2   A person may need to be authorised under another law of this jurisdiction to carry out roadworks or tests mentioned in this rule.

311         Exemption for oversize vehicles

(1)   A provision mentioned in subrule (2) does not apply to the driver of an oversize vehicle, or the driver of a vehicle escorting or piloting an oversize vehicle, if:

(a)    it is not practicable for the driver to comply with the provision; and

(b)    the driver is taking reasonable care; and

(c)    the driver is complying with any other relevant law of this jurisdiction relating to oversize vehicles, including the conditions of any permit or authority issued in relation to the oversize vehicle.

Note   Oversize vehicle is defined in the dictionary.

(2)   For subrule (1), the provisions are as follows:

  • Part 7 (Giving way), except:

–    rule 67 (Stopping and giving way at a stop sign or stop line at an intersection without traffic lights)

–    rule 68 (Stopping and giving way at a stop sign or stop line at other places)

–    rule 69 (Giving way at a give way sign or give way line at an intersection)

–    rule 70 (Giving way at a give way sign at a bridge or length of narrow road)

–    rule 71 (Giving way at a give way sign or give way line at other places)

  • Part 8 (Traffic signs and road markings), except:

–    rule 102 (Clearance and low clearance signs)

–    rule 103 (Load limit signs)

  • rule 111 (3) (which is about entering a roundabout from the right marked lane or line of traffic)
  • rule 116 (Obeying traffic lane arrows when driving in or leaving a roundabout)
  • Part 11 (Keeping left, overtaking and other driving rules)
  • Part 12 (Restrictions on stopping and parking)
  • rule 268 (How persons must travel in or on a motor vehicle)
  • rule 288 (Driving on a path)
  • rule 289 (Driving on a nature strip)
  • rule 290 (Driving on a traffic island)
  • rule 296 (Driving a vehicle in reverse)
  • rule 297 (2) (which requires a driver to have a clear view of the surrounding road and traffic).

312         Exemption for tow truck drivers

(1)   It is a defence to the prosecution of the driver of a tow truck for an offence against a provision mentioned in subrule (2) if, at the time of the offence:

(a)    the driver is engaged in loading, or connecting to, a vehicle to which this rule applies; and

(b)    the driver is unable to comply with the provision; and

(c)    the tow truck is displaying a flashing light; and

(d)    the driver is acting safely.

(2)   For subrule (1), the provisions are as follows:

  • Part 4 (Making turns)
  • Part 6 (Traffic lights and twin red lights)
  • Part 7 (Giving way), Division 1 (Places with stop signs, stop lines, give way signs or give way lines)
  • Part 8 (Traffic signs and road markings)
  • Part 9 (Roundabouts)
  • Part 11 (Keeping left, overtaking and other driving rules)
  • Part 12 (Restrictions on stopping and parking)
  • rule 288 (Driving on a path)
  • rule 289 (Driving on a nature strip)
  • rule 290 (Driving on a traffic island).

(3)   This rule applies to the following vehicles:

(a)    a vehicle at the scene of a crash;

(b)    a disabled vehicle;

(c)    a vehicle unsafely or unlawfully parked that the driver is authorised to tow away under another law of this jurisdiction.

Note   Crash is defined in the dictionary, and vehicle is defined in rule 15.

313         Exemption for postal vehicles

(1)   Another law of this jurisdiction may provide that a provision mentioned in subrule (2) does not apply to the driver of a postal vehicle.

Note   Postal vehicle is defined in the dictionary.

(2)   This rule applies to the following provisions:

  • rule 179 (Stopping in a loading zone)
  • rule 180 (Stopping in a truck zone)
  • rule 182 (Stopping in a taxi zone)
  • rule 184 (Stopping in a minibus zone)
  • rule 185 (Stopping in a permit zone)
  • rule 186 (Stopping in a mail zone)
  • rule 189 (Double parking)
  • rule 190 (Stopping in or near a safety zone)
  • rule 191 (Stopping near an obstruction)
  • rule 192 (Stopping on a bridge or in a tunnel etc)
  • rule 193 (Stopping on a crest or curve outside a built-up area)
  • rule 198 (Obstructing access to and from a footpath, driveway etc)
  • rule 288 (Driving on a path).

Preventing Permit Abuse

PREVENTING PERMIT ABUSE
One of the issues that Operation No Permit No Park has highlighted aside from disability parking offences, is the variance of permit abuse or fraud.

 

It seems innocent now but this permit was discovered over a year ago. Permits are only issued for 5 years so prior to August 2015 this permit could not have been issued with that date.

It seems innocent now but this permit was discovered over a year ago. Permits are only issued for 5 years so prior to August 2015 this permit could not have been issued with that date.

People have tried everything from deliberate placement of the permit so the expiry can’t be seen, to removing the expiry and permit number, to manipulation of the expiry date, to continue using permits that are no longer valid. This is rarely done by the original permit holder. For whatever reason, people seem to pass them on to others when they have their replacement. I should note that so far my research has revealed that the most common situation for an expired permit being fraudulently used is once the permit holder is deceased. 
 
I have been working with the Queensland Department of Transport on ways to reduce permit fraud. Despite the conditions of the permit stating that they must be returned when no longer required, permits are rarely returned and it is not enforced.
 
The new ADPP style IS much more difficult to manipulate so we do see less abuse of those types but it does still occur by concealment. Queensland is not alone, with similar issues in other states with different types of permits. My goal is to share successful fraud prevention methods nationally.
 

The best solution found so far has been to include the holographic printing on the date like we do on the new style ADPP. It makes it very difficult to alter the date.

Permit misuse can be reported through the issuing authority. You will need the permit number, car registration and any additional information you can provide.

Qld: http://www.qld.gov.au/disability/out-and-about/parking-permits/#report 

NSW: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/using-roads/mobility-parking/

SA: https://www.sa.gov.au/directories/customer-service-centres/enquiries-and-complaints

WA: http://www.app.org.au/

VIC: Contact the issuing council

TAS: Contact the department of State Growth Transport Scheme – Phone: 1300 135 513 Email: passenger.transport@stategrowth.tas.gov.au

ACT: Contact the Transport Authority – http://www.rego.act.gov.au/parking/special-parking-permits/australian-disability-parking-permits

Media Gives Readers Bad Suggestion to Abuse Disability Parking

Today, Brisbane Times journalist, Nathanael Cooper, wrote about Nova presenter Mitch Lewis having his car towed after parking his car on private property at Westend. No big deal right? The towing company is authorised and the owner of the property has the right to have any unauthorised vehicles removed. Slow news day perhaps?

My issue with the article is when Cooper suggested to avoid hefty fees to retrieve your car, you’d be better off parking in a clearway or disability park on the street.

Image reads: RACQ confirmed that businesses were entitled to protect their parking spaces as long as there was clear signage posted, and that $550 was the standard rate for retrieving a car from a towing company. A quick check of Brisbane City Council's parking fines revealed drivers were better off parking illegally on the street than risking it on commercial premises. The highest parking fine, for parking in a clearway or in an area for disabled persons without a permit, costs less than half that of the going rate required by towing companies.

Image reads:
RACQ confirmed that businesses were entitled to protect their parking spaces as long as there was clear signage posted, and that $550 was the standard rate for retrieving a car from a towing company.
A quick check of Brisbane City Council’s parking fines revealed drivers were better off parking illegally on the street than risking it on commercial premises.
The highest parking fine, for parking in a clearway or in an area for disabled persons without a permit, costs less than half that of the going rate required by towing companies.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/son-of-wally-lewis-cops-kingsize-parking-fee-20160128-gmfwaq.html

What Cooper missed entirely is that if you park in a clearway you absolutely WILL be towed (I know this, it’s happened to me when I forgot I’d parked my car on a street that became a clearway at 4pm). Plus you still cop the council fine on top. Council, while it’s not common practice, can also tow a vehicle from a disability bay if there is no permit on display. They absolutely WILL if that disability bay becomes a clearway at any time. Most importantly Cooper misses the whole morality of just parking in a disability accessible space without a permit because there’s no where else to park. So sad, keep driving. People with disabilities have even less options available to them especially for those whose access needs are specific (ie wheelchair access). Chances are if you’re driving around looking for somewhere to park, so are we. Difference is we don’t have the benefit of easy mobility to walk a few more blocks.

Aside from the absolute insult to the disability community for even suggesting the rest of the community would be better off doing this, it’s really irresponsible to encourage abuse of disability parking.

When less than two percent of parking areas are allocated to disability access while around four and a half percent of the Australian population holds a disability parking permit, we’re already facing a challenge to access our community. Why make life even harder for us?

I hope a retraction is printed or at least an addition to remind drivers they shouldn’t do this. Of course we know I’m more likely to be told to get a life right?

Friday Wright
Campaign Founder & Curator

Ten Things Disability Parking Activists Wish You Would Stop Saying

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.

booked

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.

elisha flip the bird

Disability Parking & the Complex Enforcement Battle

 

Each year since the campaign began I receive hundreds of messages from the community asking what their rights are and what the responsibilities are of police and councils when it comes to disability parking and reporting it. It is very difficult to answer the question nationally as the issue is covered by all three levels of government and legislations vary state to state, by-laws vary council to council. What is consistent is the fact that ableism continues to hamper our quality of life while this particular facet of disability access is perceived as an unimportant “perk” for the disabled by the community and the only way we can change that is through education.

Meanwhile we have the ongoing battle between Police and Councils over whose responsibility it is and all we want is someone to stand up with us and say No, This is NOT OK. It needs to be an authority because society still treats us like we don’t have the right to speak for ourselves. My biggest obstacle to educating people on the rights, wrongs and responsibilities of it all are keyboard lawyers and the fact that while a website, even from a government department, may say one thing, legislation says another.

So when it comes to reporting an offence of misuse of a disability parking space, who do you call? What a shame we don’t have Ableist Busters right?

Police are the standard go to for majority of cases when it comes to parking under the traffic act as they cover both street parking and off street parking. Off street parking is covered by police – and this is nationally under the Australian National Road Rules legislation that is then adopted and added to by each state – Off street parking is covered when it fits the definition of a road related area. Generally speaking that is a car parking area that even though it may be situated on privately owned land, is generally open to and accessible by the public. For example shopping centre car parks. The exclusion of this is when in a residential building there is a private car parking area of multiple spaces that is within a gate or is clearly signed that the public are not permitted to park there without the authorisation of the owner.

Police may issue infringements in these areas. They are also allowed, under police powers, to enter the area without having to seek permission first. And therein lies the first key difference between Police and Council.

Now this is where it gets really difficult. Each state has varying legislations that cover the same things but written in different ways. I haven’t yet perused all the states legislation to be able to specifically tell you where to find them all but as a study case, I’m using my home state of Queensland.

Police powers and relevant legislation allows them to enter the area, patrol the area, respond to complaints and investigate in the area and issue infringements if deemed necessary. The Transport Operations Road Use Management (Road Rules) Act 1995 specifies that stopping in a parking area marked for people with disabilities without a valid permit is a traffic infringement and can be enforced by police. The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 specifies their limits of power to be able to enforce this law, where and how it must be done.

So far, Queensland Police, NSW Police and Victoria Police have all confirmed with me that they can and will accept complaints from the public, preferably with evidence, of a disability parking law being broken. However there are some important factors for you to remember when making these reports. You will need to be willing to appear in court as a witness to the event should the offender be issued an infringement and choose to appeal it in the courts. You also need to make the complaint as a non priority complaint unless there is an emergency involved. Please don’t expect to call police and have them come right there and then to write out a parking ticket. There is no guarantee there is a car available in the area at the time and on the list of priorities in respect to the calls police deal with a parking offence is not high up there and nor should we expect it to be. In any event, taking photos, recording any conversations you have with the offender or taking video of the event can all be provided as evidence for the police to investigate. Which they can do under the Police Powers Act.

This is the difference between Police and Council.

All sworn in members of the Police Service are “authorised persons” to issue infringements. They also have the power to investigate and gather evidence which can be provided by the community but they also need to ensure they are able to present a strong enough case to Police Prosecutions should the matter end up in court. So your photos or video need to show the car, having no permit on display and the positioning of the parking.

Councils in Queensland have their power to create by-laws under the Local Government Act 2009. This Act also specifies what an “authorised person” is for the purpose of issuing infringements. These are called Rangers or Compliance Officers. They have the power to issue infringements of council’s by-laws. Council authorised persons must seek permission from the building owner or manager before they are able to carry out checks of compliance to council by-laws before issuing infringements. Council authorised persons can act on reports from the public to inspect or investigate claims of breaches however they must be able to provide the evidence as seen by them to issue an infringement.

What this means is that you can call council to complain about a parking by-law breach and give them the information, but a council authorised person will need to attend to collect the evidence before an infringement can be issued. These can be given on the spot or sent in the post. Council authorised persons do not have the same powers as police when it comes to entering property, investigating a committed offence or other types of enforcement powers. The Authorised Person is the one who will be called to testify their evidence if the person in receipt of the infringement chooses to have the matter heard in court. Council are not represented by Police Prosecutions. They have to foot their own costs in court and if the matter goes in favour of the defendant, they may have to cover their costs too. Councils will rarely let matters of small amounts go to court unless they are absolutely certain the offence occurred within the defence of the law which is why they send out an officer rather than accept third party information.

How infringements are issued and enforced is covered by the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999 and the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014.

In relation to the controversially promoted Snap Send Solve App used by many councils across Australia, I’ve been doing some research into it’s effectiveness for disability parking offences. I called and spoke with several councils listed as using the app and not one of them stated that they would issue an infringement from the information supplied in a report. They do however state that an authorised officer would be sent to the location where the offence has been reported and investigate. If the vehicle is still there they will take the required evidence and either issue an on the spot infringement or it will be sent in the post.

Snap Send Solve is an app already designed that these councils subscribe to for a fee. Other councils have spent the money to have their own similar apps designed more specifically for their purposes. The apps are intended only for the purpose of collecting information in a faster, easier, more convenient manner than having operators man phones. It allows them to collect enough information to follow up a report that a by-law offence has been committed or to respond to commonly reported issues like pot holes and dumped rubbish without having to keep people tied up on the phone. It was never intended to be used as a sole basis of issuing infringements. A spokesperson for one of the councils said that the legal department would “stop the practice” if they were to find that happening as it would contravene council policy.

None of the councils I spoke to could confirm if any data of any nature was kept in relation to monitoring locations by offence type to see if there was a particular high occurrence area.

Clear as mud? Yep. This is why we get passed from one side to the other continuously.

Who do you call? Unless you spot an officer nearby or it’s an emergency, you don’t. You help us collect data so that we can notify police and councils where they need to patrol by reporting it through the Towit App on your phone or you pass the info on to us via our Facebook page or you collect the required evidence and take it directly to the local police station so that they can investigate. You can also help your local authorities by letting them know where you see the offences occur the most and asking if they can include that area in their patrols. That makes you an activist rather than a slacktivist.

 

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

 

Rant warning! – Of all the stupid excuses…..

Friday I drove around a shopping centre for 15 minutes before finding an available accessible park. Last week I had to park 30 metres from my doctor’s surgery and negotiate my way past incoming traffic and reversing cars to get there. In both instances there were disability designated parking bays being used by people without permits.

Then yesterday I saw people using the last available disability park at my local shops as a loading bay for their bulk alcohol purchase.

When I said something to them about it their excuse was dumbfounding.

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.

 

 

Victimisation and Disability

Recently a campaigner posted some photos on our Facebook wall of cars parked in the disability access bays.

It was no different to any other situation of photos shared to demonstrate the frustrating and sometimes dangerous situations people with disabilities are often placed in when they’re just trying to access their community. Under Australian Privacy laws it is not illegal for us to publish photographs of vehicles (or even people) in open public spaces.

There are occasions the offending driver identifies their car and responds with an apology. It opens up opportunities for them to hear from those affected by it first hand and they’re more likely to stop the behaviour.

Unfortunately this time, that didn’t happen. Instead we got a barrage of excuses, abuse and insults. Ironically we were accused of being the bullies. Whilst most of it was played out in the public arena, for the campaigner who shared the photos it was private, direct and very ugly.

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It’s not bad enough that we are forced to have to endure people like this who discriminate against people with disabilities by blocking access, but they also think it’s appropriate to victimise the people who call out this kind of behaviour in pathetic attempts to try and vindicate themselves rather than apologise and admit it was wrong to do.

Both preventing access and victimisation are offences under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 but these offences are so obscure to the general community they’ve got no idea. Which makes it even worse that they’re guided by their moral compass to do these things rather than the law. Unfortunately several campaigners other than myself were sent harassing and victimising messages in private by people too gutless to say what they had to say in the public arena. Yet, I’m the one accused of hiding behind a computer screen. Yeah, cos I’m never out there dealing with this face to face. I’m not the one whose identity is attached to this campaign all through the media. Please, don’t be so Johnny Come Lately and abuse me for standing up for people’s rights. How privileged of you.

I’m really tired of the age old come back “I have friends with disabilities” or “I’m very active in the disability community”. Big whooping deal. You don’t live our lives. You don’t walk in our shoes. You don’t sit in our wheelchairs. You don’t suffer our agony, frustration and often at times, humiliation. If you did, you’d treat people with disabilities and their rights, with more respect than displayed here and you sure as hell wouldn’t walk on by and allow it to happen. Remember, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept and we’re all just one accident or illness away from a disability.

So you can complain to Facebook all you like about the pictures my campaigners post on there but here, on this website… this is my domain. I choose what gets displayed. You’re welcome.

Oh and one more thing…. threatening to go to the police about a photograph that incriminates you committing an offence (which might I add is acceptable as evidence for an infringement in many cases), is not exactly the smartest thing to do.

 

National Transport Road Rules
S203 Stopping in a parking area for people with disabilities

(1) A driver must not stop in a parking area for people with disabilities unless—

(a) the driver’s vehicle displays a current parking permit for people with disabilities; and

(b) the driver complies with the conditions of use of the permit.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(2) A parking area for people with disabilities is a length or area of a road—

(a) to which a permissive parking sign displaying a people with disabilities symbol applies; or

(b) to which a people with disabilities parking sign applies; or

(c) indicated by a road marking (a people with disabilities road marking) that consists of, or includes, a people with disabilities symbol.

painted island

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