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Transport is an important part of life and independence. For people who live with disabilities, access can sometimes be a struggle. The Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS) includes an Australian Disability Parking Permit, which is a nationally recognised program designed to measure levels of physical disability against consistent eligibility criteria and reduce barriers to travel and mobility for members of the disability community.
Are you eligible?
In order to facilitate interstate travel, the eligibility criteria for the Australian Disability Parking Permit are relatively consistent across the nation. However, each state government website displays these criteria slightly differently, so it’s important to consider the specifications of your locality. Broadly speaking, in order to qualify for a standard Australian Disability Parking Permit one must:
- Have a significant ambulatory disability, chronic illness or medical condition rendering them unable to walk.
- Have a disability, chronic illness or medical condition causing them to experience detrimental effects as a result of walking 100 metres or more.
- Require the use of a complex mobility aid–crutches, a walking frame, callipers, a scooter, wheelchair, or other similar mobility aid–that prevents vehicle access in a standard bay.
- Be permanently blind as defined by:
- Visual activity of less than 6/60 in both eyes on the Snellen Scale after correction by suitable lenses
- Constriction to within 10 degrees of fixation in the better eye irrespective of corrected visual activity
- A combination of visual defects in the same degree of visual impairment as those defined by points one and two.
- Have a significant intellectual disability as confirmed by a specialist medical practitioner or clinical psychologist, making them an extreme danger to themselves or others in a public place or around vehicles.
Parking permits can be issued to people aged three and above. There are many different codes, types and levels of disability parking permits, including permits for organisations responsible for transporting people with disabilities, those for drivers whose passengers are affected by disability, and people whose disabilities or impairments are temporary. It’s worth looking into what’s available to you via your state/territory government website.
How to apply?
Those wishing to acquire an Australian Disability Parking Permit are encouraged to apply online via their state or territory’s official website. These can be found below:
Forms can also often be obtained from state service centres. Applicants will be asked to provide a medical certificate. Their general practitioner will be required to complete part of their application form, confirming the limitations of their disability or medical condition and validating the need for a parking permit. Applicants will then be required to attend a state service centre in person to complete their forms, bringing with them substantial identification and payment, if required by their state or territory. Driving applicants are often also required to provide documentation on their fitness to drive.
Like drivers licenses, Australian Disability Parking Permits include a photograph of the permit holder as one of their security features. This is important as it prevents sharing and misuse of permits, ensuring that the only people who use disability parking spaces are those who legally qualify to do so. In many states/territories, applicants under the age of 16 do not need to provide a photo. Exemptions can also be requested if a person’s disability prevents them from personally attending a service centre. This should be supported by a written request for exemption and a doctor’s letter.
In some states and territories, more than one application must be placed. For example, in New South Wales those using disability parking bays are required to display both an Australian Disability Parking Permit and a NSW Mobility Parking Scheme Permit. This variability makes checking and double-checking the specific requirements of your state or territory government paramount.
Using your permit
Once your Australian Disability Parking Permit application has been successful, you are eligible to begin utilising parking concessions. Note that parking concessions may not apply in private parking bays.
Designated parking spaces that display the symbol for people with disabilities are reserved for valid permit holders. In some time-limited and ticketed/metered parking areas, holders of an Australian Disability Parking Permit are entitled to park for longer periods of time or at a reduced charge. It’s important to check the rules of each area you park in to avoid nasty fines.
Holders of Australian Disability Parking Permits are required to display their permit visibly. This helps passers-by to distinguish valid users of disability spaces from illegal users, ensuring that disability parking bays are reserved for those who need and are legally entitled to use them.
Renewing or replacing a lost or expired permit
Australian Disability Parking Permits are subject to expiry. Usually, holders will be sent a renewal notice in advance of this and should reapply a couple of weeks before their existing permit is due to expire. Much like the initial application process, renewing a parking permit requires identification, a medical certificate and, if applicable, payment. Lost or stolen parking permits should be reported immediately to the relevant state authorities so that renewal/replacement can be arranged.
Interstate or overseas
Disability Parking Permits are recognised all around Australia, so your state-issued permit will be valid when travelling interstate. Overseas travel is subject to more variability. International travellers should check the rules and regulations of their destination country thoroughly to understand what their entitlements are.
While obtaining an Australian Disability Parking Permit can seem like a complicated process, the benefits are often hugely significant. Designed to support Australian’s living with disabilities as they work, travel and engage with the community, the Australian Disability Parking Scheme is an avenue well worth considering if you are eligible.