Don’t get too excited! No one is getting rid of me forever. I’m just moving on to bigger and better things. I’m doing it now because it’s time. I’ve worked tirelessly on this campaign for three years and in that three years I’ve learned so much. Most importantly here we are on the 3rd Anniversary of launching the campaign and I’ve seen the results of our work. Campaigners, you should be proud! We’ve achieved so much. I feel as though I have taken the No Permit No Park Campaign as far as I can at this level.
So what happens now? Don’t worry I’m not about to lay down and die just yet. I still plan to be a thorn in the side of bureaucracy but it will be on a broader scale. My condition has deteriorated further and my mobility has been affected to a level that I am having more difficulty with day to day activities including driving. So I am driving less but using mobility devices more. I recently purchased and registered my first mobility scooter and while it’s changed my life for the better to a degree, I am noticing more and more about the obstacles in our community when it comes to access and inclusion. I’ve been promoting the #InclusiveCommunities ideals throughout the whole campaign but now I’d like to do more to see real action on the ground rather than governments rerouting emails to other departments trying to figure out who is responsible for the problem. It’s time it was just classified into one area and addressed nationally.
When we still have more than half our city network train stations being inaccessible and rules that can’t be enforced or have no penalty, it shows that the issues are not being given the focus they need. When we have communities with population rates of severe disability 3 times the average in Australia we need to ensure we’re channelling the funding to the right areas. This is what I aim to work on in the future. Raising awareness to the right people of the issues that are falling through the cracks.
So here are some snap shots of the success the No Permit No Park Campaign has had.
Between 2010 and 2015 Queensland Police successfully issued 5996 PINs (Parking Infringement Notices) for Stopping in a Disability zone without a permit. In addition to that another 530 PINs were issued for failing to comply with the conditions of the permit. This graph shows how these PINS were distributed throughout Queensland’s Policing Districts. North Brisbane, South Brisbane, Logan and Gold Coast as well as having high population and more on street designated disability parking areas to meet population demand, also have high police presence to population.
What is also interesting is that these areas are in high proactive council areas where competition is high for parking infringement revenue by comparison to lower populated areas. This shows us that police have a good awareness of disability parking offences and address the issues considering the priority level of parking offences in the day to day work of police.
Even further evidence comes through looking at the top 25 Parking Infringements issued in the same period. It is expected that the highest three would appear as they occur so frequently on a daily basis in busy traffic particularly in high density areas, with drivers often thinking it’s harmless, or just completely ignorant to the traffic control signage around them when they stop their vehicles. These are the type of offences police will see as they patrol in vehicles and therefore easily pull up to issue the PIN. Checking disability zones requires some more effort with an officer needing to inspect the windscreen of vehicles, so they’re not as easy to spot as the highest three offences.
What you can compare to see that Disability Parking offences are taken seriously, is that other offences that we know occur at just as high a rate as disability parking, such as stopping in a loading zone for more than 2 minutes to drop off or pick up a passenger, have less than half the attention of disability parking. Any parent who does the school run knows how often this particular traffic control is abused 5 days a week.
The most significant part of this particular statistic is that in the 2010-11 year Disability Parking Offences were 8th highest compared to now where they sit at 5th highest.
What does any of this have to do with No Permit No Park?
Here is the pièce de résistance!
I first established the No Permit No Park Campaign in March 2013. It wasn’t long before I was engaging with MPs and Councillors but my favourite engagement of all time has been with Queensland Police. In particular with Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Command, Mike Keating and Senior Constable Christie May of Brisbane City command. They have been supportive, proactive and encouraging throughout the entire campaign. I can’t go past without thanking SC May on the work she has done with Operation No Permit No Park with enduring tenacity.
We’ve not finished working together just yet though. We have a project under way that will be revealed during Disability Action Week this year and we will continue to further develop the Operation throughout Queensland.
Operation No Permit No Park has been incredibly successful in Brisbane City (hence why we are encouraging other police districts to join the operation), with not only a reduction of complaints to parking centre managers in the CBD that are regularly patrolled, but also a reduction in opportunities to issue infringements as people become aware that they can and will be issued with an infringement even if they only stop for a minute.
I would also like to recognise that without the assistance of Steve Zeppa at QPS/PSB none of this would have happened. He’s the guy that organises everyone whenever I send an email saying “can we all get together for another meeting?”
The campaign hasn’t just had an effect on police operations though.
I was also surprised to see that while there has been an increase in PINs for stopping in disability zones, there has been a reduction in PINs for non compliance of permit conditions. We believe this can be attributed to the improvement in the permit system since incorporating the Australian Disability Parking Permit Scheme in Queensland, but also the work we’ve done promoting education to permit holders. Encouraging them to be more vigilant about ensuring their permit is on display and displayed correctly, as well as not becoming complacent in having permits replaced.
We’ve done a great deal of work gaining the support of law enforcement on this issue and I’m incredibly pleased seeing these statistics knowing they’re doing the best job they can. Of course there is always room for improvement which is why I have faith that SC May will continue to work in this area with the Queensland Police Service.
What happens to No Permit No Park now?
The website and social media will remain as an educational resource. I will still continue to share informational posts as my time and health allows. Slowly it will evolve into an Accessible & Inclusive Communities campaign as I continue to work on these issues in the community. What probably won’t happen any more is the whole “name and shame” photo posts. I’ve said it before but I am absolutely adamant now that it just doesn’t work effectively and wastes a lot of my time as I have to remove defamatory comments, interject arguments and correct myths people share. A perfect example was a very recent post on Facebook. A lady shared a photo showing a vehicle that had parked in front of a disability access bay blocking access to the footpath with her pushing her son who uses a wheelchair. I had shared it to show as an example of how not thinking about where you park have have a serious impact on people with mobility issues. Did it get the response I had hoped for? No. Instead people made suggestions of violence and vandalism, insisting she take the photo to police, call council, get a tow truck etc etc. We can do that time and time again but it only affects that one person at that one time.
By showing examples of how these situations can affect people with disabilities and their carers we have a much better opportunity to educate a community rather than denigrate it which will be far more effective and beneficial to the disability community in the long term. So if all you’re looking for is likes and overnight viral fame wanting to name and shame someone there are plenty of other spaces on social media doing just that. If you want to be part of the success and educate your community for long term benefit, then visit our new pages aimed at giving key steps to various relevant areas of a community.
I want to thank everyone who has joined the campaign over the past 3 years, for the support that propped me up when I wanted to fall, for the lessons in humility and most of all for making it matter. Thank you to those who helped me find my way getting started, helped me find necessary resources throughout the journey and just for liking, sharing and sharing my humour and wit.
I look forward to bringing better access and inclusion to your community and mine.
Elisha ‘Friday’ Wright
Future Crazy Cat Lady