A Western Australian Greens Senator has called for more regulation and education when it comes to able-bodied drivers misusing vacant disabled car parking spots.
- The Shire of Augusta Margaret River is cracking down on illegal parking
- There are calls for a more consistent approach to fines for parking in disabled bays
- Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John says there aren’t enough bays
Senator Jordan Steele-John said it was frustrating when people parked in disabled car parks, known as ACROD bays, without a permit — and it happened too often.
“I have [experienced this] many times where people take them, and I’ve had to park yards and yards and yards away,” Senator Steele-John said.
And he said there were not enough ACROD bays available.
“The worst ones really are, when you look at a car park for a big event centre or whatever, and there’s a thousand bays and maybe two or three of them are disabled,” Senator Steele-John said.
“We are 20 per cent of the population in WA, and yet the law only says 2 per cent of bays need to be accessible.
“And there’s just not enough accessible bays, really, anywhere in Australia.”
Senator Steele-John said this was an issue all over the world, but in WA laws needed to change so there was better regulation across the state.
“There’s patchwork enforcement across WA: some councils fine different amounts, some councils don’t fine at all, so it does not really build a consistent culture,” he said.
Tourist hot spot opts for $300 fines
The Shire of Augusta Margaret River, in Western Australia, has decided to get tougher on offenders who park in the bays without an ACROD permit.
Shire president Pam Townsend said $300 fines were now being issued on the spot.
“We think it’s an important issue for people who have ACROD parking permits in our shire as well as visitors,” she said.
Ms Townsend said the issue was close to her heart because she used to drive her elderly mother to doctors’ appointments and had dealt with people parking in the disabled spots without a permit.
“It causes anxiety and I was driving my mum,” she said.
“But I think that if it was someone driving themselves then it’s quite likely that they’d just end up going home or missing their doctors’ appointments,” she said.
Educate or enforce
Julie Waylen is the WA state manager for the National Disability Service and praised the Shire of Augusta Margaret River for stressing the importance of the issue and hoped that more local governments would follow suit.
“There are opportunities for communities like Margaret River to really stand up and be a really good showcase for how people with a disability are included in all aspects of community life,” she said.
But Ms Waylen wanted to see better strategies in place, including stronger awareness, education campaigns, and a tougher fine enforcement regime.
“There is a need for people to be able to look at other options. I know in NSW there’s a demerit point [lost] as well as a fine, for illegally parking in an ACROD bay,” she said.
Augusta Margaret River’s Pam Townsend just wanted people to think twice about it, before they parked in a disabled parking spot.
“Be so grateful that you are able-bodied and that you can walk and take advantage of the time to park somewhere else and get a smidge more exercise, so that you’ll stay able-bodied and walking for a little bit longer,” she said.
Topics: disabilities, urban-development-and-planning, margaret-river-6285, bunbury-6230
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