Disability Parking for Businesses
Information about your legal responsibilities and how you can uphold the moral responsibility legally with disability parking and enforcement
Information about your legal responsibilities and how you can uphold the moral responsibility legally with disability parking and enforcement
How to increase your patronage by up to 30% by making your business or building disability friendly
How to create positive change in your community following a few key guidelines
Print your own educational flyers to leave on offending vehicles in disability parking
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!
And don’t forget to like them on Facebook! Share the love!
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:
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.
Reposted from lost archives:
I surveyed 100 people. Since most respondents were my supporters or people of a like mind I don’t think it’s a true reflection of the general attitude in the community but what it did find might surprise some people.
Imagine, your partner, your child, your friend or even yourself, with a physical disability that impairs your ability to walk so much you have to use a wheelchair. You want to take them out to dinner or you’re going to meet friends for dinner. You arrive at the venue to find there is no disabled parking available either because there just isn’t enough provided or because someone has used the designated spaces without a permit. You have to leave. Go home. Tell your partner or child you can’t get in or worse, call your friends waiting for you to say you can’t park your car because you won’t be able to get out.
Imagine needing to get groceries for dinner and not being able to get into the store because you can’t get out of the car.
This happens to people who have permits to use disabled parking more than you realise. Even I was surprised to see that of the respondents who did have a permit or transport someone who does 87.2% said they have at some stage had to leave a car park because they couldn’t get an adequate parking space to suit their needs.
This has to change. But this is what I will be talking to my local MP about tomorrow afternoon. If you have faced these problems I encourage you to do the same. Write a letter if you can’t get to see them. Organisations have been advocating for people with disabilities for a while but I feel for those of us who can stand up for ourselves (no pun intended), it’s high time we did.
So here are the results.
Thanks again for participating and taking an interest. I’ll keep you updated on how the battle is going.
1. Do you have a disabled parking permit or transport someone who does?
35% said they either have a permit or transport someone who does.
The rest said no.
2. If you don’t have a permit do you think it’s acceptable to us a disabled parking space if you’re only going to be a few minutes?
97% said no. – But you’d be surprised how often it happens.
3. If you don’t have a permit do you think it’s acceptable for parents with prams to use disabled parking?
99% said no.
4. If you DO have a permit, do you find it difficult to find appropriate parking when you go out
5. If you DO have a permit, have you ever had to leave a car park because you couldn’t find an appropriate parking space?
56.4% said they have but not often
30.8% said it happens a lot
only 12.8% say it’s never happened to them.
6. Have you ever seen designated disabled parking spaces that were unsuitable or poorly designed for disabled use?
59.8% said yes. (I’ve seen spaces you can’t even open the door properly in)
7. Are you aware that using disabled parking incurs a fine in Australia?
Only 88% said yes. Considering 35% of respondents are permit holders it says a lot.
8. Do you believe disabled parking regulations are enforced enough in your area?
A whopping 90.5% said NO!
9. Do you think places like shopping centres, provide better parking for parents with prams than they do for people with disabilities.
83.8% said yes. Many people have given me specific examples.
10. If you were fined for illegally using a disabled parking space without a permit would it deter you from doing it again?
88.5% of people said Yes.
This is reposted from the lost archives:
I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get my disability parking permit. I did it because I don’t like infringement notices and because it’s the way it should be. No permit no park. Simple.
I used to just get frustrated by it and think “What an arsehole” in my head. Then I started saying it out loud to anyone that was with me. Now I have become so frustrated by the inconvenience it causes I have started telling the culprits themselves.
I’m talking about people who abuse designated disability parking spaces.
This evening the family decided to go out for dinner. We headed to our favourite local sushi place which happens to be on the outside of our local shopping centre. It also happens to be right next door to a bottle shop and opposite a pub. There are several restaurants, a gym, an ice cream shop and banks all in close vicinity of them. You already see where this is going don’t you.
When I pulled up, another car pulled into the first disabled space at the same time and the driver left his wife and kids in the car while he ducked into the bottle shop. I walked closer to see they had no disabled parking permit. I was annoyed but I wanted dinner so I was honestly going to let it go. As I went to walk away though, another car pulled in next to mine also in a disabled space also with no permit displayed. No, I wasn’t going to just let them ignore me.
I was a bit surprised to see an older lady get out of the car but age is not a disability so I asked her anyway, “Do you realise that is a disabled parking space?”
She stared at me a little stunned then replied, “I left my thing at home, I have one, my husband is disabled.”
Okay so two things here: Firstly, the left it at home story, crap. I know what I went through for that thing it’s like gold. I never take it out of the car. If I do, it goes in my bag which goes everywhere with me. Secondly if her husband is disabled, to legally be allowed to use that space he not only needs to be with her, but also getting out of the vehicle. “You really should leave it in the car,” I told her, “It’s illegal to park there without the permit.” I was going to leave it at that. I started to walk away, when she got all defensive. “LOOK! LOOK AT MY ANKLE!” She started to yell at me. I looked, her ankle was clearly swollen but it didn’t change anything, she should have kept the permit in the car. She could be fined.
“I wasn’t interested in your ankle, I was interested in why you didn’t have a permit.” I told her.
“I do have one, my husband is disabled as well.” She insisted again.
I just repeated, “You’re supposed to leave it in the car.” I was almost at my destination next door to the bottle shop when I noticed that was where she was going! I hate liars. She wasn’t using that space because she was disabled. She was using that space because she was going to the bottle shop and she was LAZY!
I couldn’t help myself. “Oh Yeah! Real disabled. You’ll walk around that bottle shop with no problem!”
She hurled some abuse back so that was it for me. I got my phone out. Turned on the camera and started taking photos. I took a photo of the first car that had come in:
When I did, the lady sent her children in to the bottle shop to get the driver. Real class act.
Then I took a photo of the old lady’s car:
I joined the boys inside who just shook their heads at me and laughed. “You’re feisty tonight!” Steve told me.
“If I don’t stand up for myself and the disabled, who will? No one else is going to point it out to them.” I was cranky.
“Good for you baby.”
I’d just sat down when the first car, now with the woman driving and the man in the passenger seat, stopped outside the restaurant I was in and she pointed me out to him. So I pointed back. I am not going to be intimidated by people who were doing the wrong thing.
We enjoyed dinner and when we returned to the car I saw another car, no permit parked next to mine. So I took a photo.
There was another car a space away on the other side. A lady was sitting in it with an unrestrained child. She was on the phone but I went over anyway. I tried to be polite. “Hi, Excuse me, do you realise this is disabled parking?”
She looked at me annoyed, “Oh yeah, I do, I’m on the phone.”
WHAT! No. No no no. “Oh so it doesn’t bother you that you’re illegally using a disabled space?”
“Well my husband has just ducked inside he won’t be long.”
“Yes but if everyone that comes here does that at the same time, I can’t get parking when I come here to get food. This space is designated for people with disabled parking permits.”
“Well it’s just the same as me having a pram and and a baby.”
“Um no it’s nothing like it. You don’t know what it’s like to be disabled, it’s just selfish.”
“Oh so what it’s not like there’s no spaces.”
“You know what, if you really want to use disabled parking so badly I’d be happy to break your spine so you can find out what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.” Ok so that was probably a bit over the top. I think I pushed it there.
In the mean time the driver of the car on the other side had returned, so I asked, “Do you know that’s disabled parking.”
He just gave me a dirty look.
“I know you’ll probably be disabled when you finish that bottle but you’ve really go no excuse now.”
“Oh why don’t you just fuck off.” He was a real charmer.
“It’s ok I have a photo of your car and number plate. I’ll give it to the police.”
“Why don’t you stay here all night and take photos of all the cars that come?”
“Don’t worry I might just do that!” I yelled as he drove off. Arsehole.
I got in the car, started it and started to reverse when the other lady whom I’d given a mouthful had her husband return and she started telling him what had happened. I saw as I drove away he had started to walk toward my car but stopped when I’d started to leave. I could hear him yelling though so I put my window down. He was yelling abuse I couldn’t make out but it was loud and clearly directed at me. So I just yelled back, “Don’t use disabled parking.”
I heard him reply “… speak to my wife like that again I’ll punch your face in…” Oh My God this was ridiculous.
“That’s the way,” I yelled back, “threaten to hit a disabled woman for pointing out you broke the law, you’re a real hero!”
Ok that was probably stupid. The guy was five times my size. Perhaps I only had the courage to do it because there were people around and Steve was with me. Later I asked him if he wished I hadn’t have done it. He said no, he was worried about the guy following us but he understood why I was angry. He just asked I don’t go doing that when I’m on my own.
So in a matter of 45 minutes I got 5 cars breaking the law. A law people don’t seem to be aware of. A law that is unclear. Currently the fine for parking in a disabled park without a permit in Queensland varies depending on the council area. I’ve found them ranging from $70 to $200. Its not a big enough deterrent. To some people thats just cheap parking. There is no consistent system. Police can issue fines but fines are mostly issued by council parking inspectors. It shouldn’t be about revenue. It should be about respect for the disabled and protecting their rights.
People don’t seem to consider it important. For me it’s not entirely detrimental. I can use alternative parking if I have to. It may mean struggling to get out of the car because I need the door open and both feet on the ground to get out or I have a risk of falling over. It may mean having to walk further which means fatigue and a higher risk of tripping or falling over.
For others though it may mean having to leave because there is no suitable parking available. I have a friend who is a wheelchair user and drives. Amazing modern technology called hand controls. If she can’t open the door wide enough she can’t get her wheelchair out. If there is no adequate access from the car to where she has to go, she can’t go in. People like her have no other option. Many people, just like her have told me, they often just leave because they can’t find anywhere suitable to park.
When you use disabled parking and leave a disabled person without a space, you’re taking away part of their independence!
It’s not fair.
I was laying there in bed questioning what possessed those people to get so angry with me. Then I remembered something a counsellor said to me once. There are only a few different types of anger. The most common is anger from passion (that was my anger) and anger from guilt (that was their anger). If your anger has come from guilt, you really need to consider your actions.
Had these people had have said, “Yes, you’re right I shouldn’t do it, I’m sorry”, I’d have happily accepted that and thanked them.
So I’m kind of stuck now. How do I educate people about why the facilities provided for the disabled are so important and not for the convenience of able bodied people, without getting my head ripped off?
I know I can’t change the world, but I’m sure as hell going to die trying!
Originally published under
Disability Action Week 2014 a Success!
September 26, 2014
Information, Media Coverage, Positive Experiences #InclusiveCommunities, @QPSMedia, Disability Access, Queensland Police Service
After a few inter-agency meetings we surprised Queenslanders with something they weren’t expecting. For thousands it was a show of support. For a few others, it was an infringement notice and an education in their road rules.
Naturally plenty of opposers (sometimes referred to as ablesists) had their say about it. There were the cynics too who are only happy when it rains. But for the most, people were happy to see that there was some focus on it.
Why so many cautions? After much discussion we agreed that education is key here. We don’t want it to become a point of resentment. We want people to understand that when they block access to people who need it, they exclude them.
Exclusion from our community is discrimination. We are trying to promote #InclusiveCommunities. So the strategy of giving cautions when a driver was present to be educated was taken.
68 cautions and 28 infringement notices issued for using a disability bay without a permit. 19 other infringements were also issued.
Some people feel it’s not a good enough job.
Let me give you some facts.
In 2012 a total of 894 infringements related to disability parking or permits were issued in Queensland. That’s an average of 17 per week. Across the whole of Queensland.
This increased in 2013 to an average of 23 per week. Partly due to an increase in officers out on the beat and partly thanks to awareness raised by our campaigners.
Bearing in mind we opted for the educational approach and went with cautions as much as possible… take the 28 (already above the average) and the 68 and you have 96.
That’s 73 more people than average for the week now know that if they park without a permit in a parking bay designated for people with disabilities they will get an infringement notice. They now know it’s not cool. They’ll also share the info with their friends. No one likes to have to pay a fine.
I think considering the huge week that Queensland Police Service had last week, that’s is an outstanding effort and they should congratulated and shown a bit of gratitude.
The most interesting part of the entire campaign has been the social media interactions.
Here are a few comments I’ve selected to expand on (no identities)
What if I got a broken leg…..Haven’t got time to get paper work. Police should just use common sense
Please remember you guys have made it near impossible to get a disabled placard and some people have recurring illnesses without the funds necessary to keep the ability to get a placard.
What happens when you fine the disabled mother who couldn’t afford her own disability placard because she had to feed her kids first?
I sympathise with people who have difficulty getting a permit. It’s not as simple as it seems. You don’t have to keep paying for a permit once you have been approved though so this comment intrigues me. I do provide assistance for people who have difficulty applying for a permit however the doctor’s medical report is the evidence required and they must state that you fit the eligibility criteria which, for the ADPP is:
To apply for an ADPP, the applicant must be a Queensland resident and meet 1 of the following eligibility criteria:
A temporary medical condition or disability must be of at least 6 months duration, as certified by a doctor or occupational therapist.
A temporary medical condition should include the condition or injury AND the rehabilitation time before the person will be able to walk again without being severely restricted. A broken hip takes quite some time to heal and rehabilitate. A broken toe does not severely restrict your ability to walk. Okay, that’s not a medical professional opinion but I’ve had a broken toe. Well I’ve had a few. I still get them now. I’d trade Parkinson’s for living the rest of my life with a broken toe
while i agree that people should be fined over this, there is much worse out there then this
I’m sure there’s something better to do with your time. It sucks that people use the spaces but is it really something the police have to get involved with.
Riiiighht….. Because that is such a huge issue for public safety
watse of time parking violation not a real crime thats why the council have parking inspector s seriously
not much real crime going on at moment ?
Tying up police resources. Whilst it is an issue I’m sure that their time would be better spent catching actual criminals.
Maybe clamp down on criminal activity that is a bit more concerning to the public than people (usually for a half-valid reason) using disabled parking bays? Go for a stroll around suburbs like woodridge at night and you’ll see exactly what i’m talking about. Just a citizen’s opinion however.
Yes that’s right. There is much worse. There’s also much less. How amazing is it that our Police service can be so multi talented they can handle the big and the small stuff at the same time. This is more than just writing out a parking fine. It’s ensuring people with disabilities have the right to inclusion in our communities. The moment we start picking and choosing which laws we want to enforce and which we think we shouldn’t bother with is the moment the system falls apart. Real criminals? What if it were your rights being restricted? You’d have a lot to say then.
My sister stopped in one to drop someone off with their special needs child and got fined $422 and lost 3 points. She didn’t leave the car, it was running, and she had her seatbelt still on, ready to leave. It was a bit harsh of a penalty I think.
No, the infringement is $227 and only recently increased to that. So that is NOT what she was fined for. There’s clearly more to that story.
So has the disabled got the right to park in a normal carpark as well with their disable sticker on their windscreen. Are they gonna get fined for parking in a non disable park.
I have no words. I just…. %&$*(W$%$^%&%^#%)$Q^*%(Q#&*%q#&
We let these people vote? And breathe?
Agree fully, however most of the disabled spots are empty and the regular parking is full. I see a need to reduce the overkill of disabled parking at shopping centres especially. Even my local servo has one and all the parks are next to the door.
Overkill? Dude, if you see a space free, it means it’s AVAILABLE FOR SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT! Oops I’m getting ragey again. Yes your service station has one, because guess what!? The car I drive with my disability and my permit NEEDS PETROL! I know right! Imagine a person with a disability not only being able to drive but getting petrol too! And goodness forbid I might ever stop in at the service station for a bottle of milk on my way home from at 10pm at night. I’ll play along though, here are a few facts. Currently 3.8% of the Australian population holds a disability parking permit. That will continue to rise as our population continues to age (based on disability age demographics disability increases largely from 60yrs+). The Access to Premises Standards currently specific in the building code that only 1.5% to 2% depending on the building type, needs to be allocated to disability accessible parking. So, lets talk about that overkill again.
Then there were the hundreds of comments from people asking for parents with prams parking to be enforced as well…. sigh… We’ve been there. Do I need to do it again?
Okay… let’s put it like this.. If you are going to compare parenting to having a disability, you’ve just about gone and insulted every person who has ever parented in history. I have kids. Yes I loved the marketing approach of accessibility for parents in this very fast paced world where both parents now need to work to manage a household budget. However I was never excluded from my community as a parent like I have been with a disability. Until there’s legislation to prevent discrimination of parents with prams o.O then I don’t think you’ll see police doing much about that.
And of course… my very own double edged sword. Police in disability parking.
I once took up issue about an ambulance using a disability bay. I do not care to recall the horror of how badly that went. It was not received well and lets just say there are people in emergency services who have long memories and they still to this day will not let me forget it.
But it was justified. Then I followed up on an issue with a police vehicle parked across two bays. Turned out that car park was actually closed. However… there is something really important you need to know about these things…..
There is an exemption for emergency vehicles. There are also rules and guidelines to those exemptions and while I have every respect and admiration for our emergency services and the job they do, and I understand the need for them to have the vehicle as close by as possible in case they get that call while they’re trying to grab a quick coffee on the run between jobs…. I do encourage them to remember the policies and to avoid taking the one and only bay when there are alternatives available within reason. It’s not often I see it happen though.
AUSTRALIAN ROAD RULES – REG 307
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.
“Emergency vehicle” and “police vehicle” are defined in the dictionary.
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.
It’s been a long road to get to this point. I’m feeling really positive about the progress.
I’d like to note particularly, gratitude for their input and assistance with making our campaign for Disability Action Week 2014 happen,
Public Safety Business Agency Executive Director Media Stephen Zeppa
Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating
Department of Transport and Main Roads Anne Kirby
Department of Communities Queensland Meredith Bray
The entire Queensland Police Service
And most of all, Constable Christie May, who has gone above and beyond to help me and the entire disability community feel valued and included. Operation No Permit No Park in Brisbane City has demonstrated that because one woman refused to give up, and a police officer recognised they could make a difference, team work is changing people’s behaviours.
I can only hope somewhere along the way, we manage to change attitudes as well.
While out and about last week taking photos of a car without a permit a passerby says, “Out on your parking patrol again hey. Nothing better to do?”
Me: “Yes I do actually but I couldn’t do it because this person took the last available space and by the time I walked from where I had to park to where I had to go, it was too late.”
Him: “You know you’re not making any friends going on with your rants all the time and taking photos.”
Me: “I’m not doing this to make friends. I’m doing this to make it right.”
I walked away. Cos I have anger issues. Stupid people make me angry.
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.
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.
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