Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Political action - and the hard work's been done for you

The federal government, in its infinite wisdom, appears to have decided that the way to deal with insufficient disabled parking spaces is to re-write the eligibility legislation to exclude more people.

And while they were busy fucking it up, they thought they would also change the nature of the eligibility criteria from practical measures (eg "detrimentally affected by walking 100m") to measures of dependence (eg "sometimes requiring assistance from another person"). Oh goody, let's decide who's deserving enough based on irrelevant measures of what the government determines is disabled rather than the difficulty people have in accessing the community.

So anyway, over at Hoyden, a wonderful group of people have done all the hard work and created a form letter for you to use, or you can use it for inspiration to write your own. Please look at all this and do something. This has not only practical ramifications, but it also takes a big backward step in the way disability is viewed.

The form letter is here. A description of why it is awful and the existing criteria is here. Lauredhel's original HAT post is here.

The form letter is reproduced here as well.


Dear [Name OR Sir/Madam],

I am writing to express my concern regarding the scheme proposed in the discussion paper, “Harmonisation of Disability Parking Permit Schemes in Australia*”. The proposed scheme excludes a large proportion of people with disabilities who are adversely affected by regular parking. It does not make sufficient provisions for individuals who require a walking stick, or who use shopping trolleys or prams as alternative assistive devices. It also excludes individuals with disabilities who, although they are able to walk short distances without assistance, are negatively impacted by the requirement that they use distant or inaccessible parking. Consequently, it significantly reduces the number of Australians with disabilities eligible for a Disability Parking Permit, including many of those for whom access to accessible parking is a necessity for living everyday life.

Under current schemes, persons capable of walking only short distances without pain or other incapacitation can use disability parking spaces to access workplaces, educational institutions, healthcare services, shopping centres, and public facilities such as libraries and parks independently. Under the new proposal, these individuals will lose their independence, and be forced to rely on the assistance of others, contributing to their social and political isolation. People likely to be adversely affected include (but are not limited to) those who suffer from illnesses such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, those in the early stages of degenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, those with severe mental illnesses, and those who experience high levels of pain from past injuries etc.

In addition to having a profound negative impact on the independence of many Australians living with disability, this scheme also reinforces the harmful and narrow notion that disability must be visible—via the use of various medical mobility aids—before it is considered legitimate. If implemented, this scheme will particularly adversely affect those Australians who live with ‘invisible’ disabilities, who already suffer significant discrimination within the community.

This level of discrimination against people with disabilities is unacceptable in a nation dedicated to giving all of its citizens a “fair go”. People with disabilities are important contributors to the nation, and thus it is imperative that you expand the eligibility criteria for Disability Parking Permits before this scheme is implemented, for the sake of all Australians—but especially those who live with invisible disabilities.

Yours Sincerely,


More details below the fold.

Emails can be sent to:

OR snail-mail to:
Australian Disability Parking Scheme submissions (East Wing)
PO Box 7576
Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610

Deadline for submissions is 5pm AEST Friday 31 July 2009.

Thanks to Lauredhel, WildlyParenthetical and Beppie for doing all the hard work and thinking.