Why Feminists Need To Be Concerned About Accessible Parking Restrictions


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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.

Grab and send a letter to government NOW to protest these proposed changes. Please.



CALL TO ACTIVISM – Many people with disabilities to be excluded from accessible parking under proposed scheme

“Harmonisation” of disabled parking schemes: What are the current State and Territory criteria?

Categories: ethics & philosophy

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8 replies

  1. As well as a feminist issue this is also a class issue, I believe. Part of the stated restrictions was that prams and trolleys and other “not designed as a disability aid” equipment was not counted as a mobility aid. So if you can afford a specialised disability aid – or have the ability and knowledge to get the government to fund one for you – you’ll magically become eligible but if you have to rely on an ad hoc mobility aid you’re not.
    This makes it, I guess, both a feminist and a class issue, because the type of mobility aid which also caters to a child requiring a pram is both rare and expensive and I’ve never seen the government fund one of those. So if you have a non-walking child you’re doubly out of luck.
    rickybuchanan.livejournal.com/’s last blog post..Status Report

  2. Thankyou for making the points about class, Ricky!
    I looked into buying a scooter this week, partially because I seem to be getting a bit worse, and partly because of the spectre of these laws meaning I may have to park further away. The one that would apparently suit my needs, according to local disability equipment advisors, would cost nearly $4000. But even that doesn’t suit my needs, because though it can dismantle to go into a car boot, the heaviest part weighs 25 kg. So it’s not even just a matter of “fork out a few thousand on a scooter, or find a secondhand one with a dodgy battery for a bit less”, it’s a matter of “oh, and buy a van”.
    ….and then if I was using a van and ramp, I’d need a permit spot anyhow.
    We’re well off compared to most families dealing with disability. But this just isn’t going to happen. Unless we can retrofit the car with some sort of hoist. But the ILC didn’t say anything about that, they just warned me that 25 kg was too heavy to lift and that I’d need a van or wagon with ramp.
    So what are people with no money supposed to do?

  3. Good points. Also, women are more likely to be the carers of older family members with disabilities, parents, spouses etc. as well as children.

  4. I think what people with no money are supposed to do is stay in. It certainly feels that way. There are also seems to be an attitude that disabled people don’t have kids, because the only people who are really disabled are those who look “right.” You know, eternal child, sexless, never out with an attendant, all that. Despite all the awesome progress being made in the disability movement, those stereotypes are hard to shake. People used to mistake my lover for my aide before she started using a cane. Now they don’t say anything one way or another.
    I was having some problems with my powerchair last month, and when I took it into be repaired I was told it’d be a week or more, they didn’t know. I told them I needed it sooner if possible, and the lady there told me that there are grocery stores that deliver. Because, you know, the only thing a cripple would need is food or something. Not human contact, not entertainment. I am thankful for grocery delivery services, though.
    It’s weird that because I’m a wheelchair user I’d be entitled to the permit under these rules, but my partner who has RA and mainly uses a cane, wouldn’t. If I can get out of the car safely and there are ramps and flat ground, then I’m usually OK. She, on the other hand, really needs to park as close as possible.

  5. I’m just putting this out there. I plan to write a paper on discrimination within the healthcare system, particularly gender and ability discrimination.
    If anyone knows of any good relevant literature, I would appreciate a heads up.

  6. Post amended to add a new logo, and Join our Facebook group – “Against the Proposed Narrowing of Accessible Parking Permit Eligibility”!

  7. New wondering: has any accessible parking scheme ever taken into account the needs of parents with disability who are parenting able-bodied youngsters?
    I wonder if there are situations where a Parent WD with, say, arthritis issues, might need to get a pram or trolley right alongside a car for transfer, or might need a guarantee that they can get car doors fully open for child transfers, without necessarily meeting other aspects of the criteria.
    Ad hoc Parents With Prams spots are not a solution to this. They’re rarely there at all, when they are they’re not regulated, and they’re invariably full (because they’re unregulated).

  8. Yet another reason the social model is what we should adhere to: the medical model does not allow for all these considerations; the social model takes the focus off pwd’s “qualifications” and puts it on society’s structuring.

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