Join our Facebook group – “Against the Proposed Narrowing of Accessible Parking Permit Eligibility“!
As regular readers know, the Australian Government is looking to reduce the number of disabled parking permits available to the community, by refusing access to the programme for independent people with disabilities who walk with a cane or without any mobility aid. Many people with invisible disabilities will be refused accessible parking under the new scheme, and it’s all being done in the name of “harmonisation” – but when you look at the existing State and Territory criteria (see background section), “harmonisation” is just a government excuse.
Why should feminists be particularly concerned?
Firstly, many invisible and near-invisible disabilities that affect mobility affect more women than men. Chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, osteoporosis – and virtually all the other autoimmune disorders – affect women at much greater rates than men.
There is a lot of overlap, and obviously many men will be affected – but it’s pretty clear to me that on average, women will be disproportionately adversely affected by the proposed scheme.
But there’s something else eating at me, and that’s the carer role. Women are far more likely to be sole parenting, and also far more likely to be doing the daytime parenting, if partnered. Where does the permit requirement for physical dependence leave us, when there are others physically dependent on us?
Women are the ones (again, primarily) dropping off and picking up children from kindergarten and school. Women are the ones ferrying children to sporting activities, dance lessons, and music lessons. Women are the ones taking children to library storytime and playgroup. Women are the ones getting children to birthday parties. Women are taking children to doctors and dentists and hospitals.
If accessible parking at these venues is closed to us, what do we do next? Not only will we be largely trapped at home, but our children will be also. Not only will we be excluded from an active life, cultural activities, healthcare access, educational institutions, and community involvement, but our children will be also.
And if you’re not living it, you have no idea how that prospect feels.