What You Should Know About Your Disability Parking Permit

Congratulations! Getting your disability parking permit sorted out means another step towards greater accessibility for your day to day life with the freedom to use accessible parking spaces. Now the applications and other admin are out of the way, here’s what you should know about a disability parking permit.

From your parking and insurance benefits to your rights around accessible parking spaces, we have it covered.

What you should know about disability parking permits nationwide

Australia’s disability parking scheme is recognised countrywide. Across every state and territory. But the criteria for being granted a permit isn’t standardised. Although it’s mostly the same across the entire country, there are some differences.

Handicap parking spot sign, reserved lot space for disabled person, selective focus

What you should know about the criteria for disability parking permits

If you have your permit in hand you’ll know your local roads and traffic authority can provide the full rundown of what’s required before approval. There are differences between states/territories, in both criteria and application process.

However, the key criteria for approval is nationwide – the permit holder must experience significant limited mobility. RMS NSW describes this as: “a person must be unable to walk because of permanent or temporary loss of the use of one or both legs or other permanent medical or physical condition, or whose physical condition is detrimentally affected as a result of walking 100 metres, or who requires the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, scooter, wheelchair, or other similar mobility aid“.

In some states/territories people who meet permanently visually impaired criteria will also be approved for a disability parking permit.

And speaking of permanence, there are different levels of permanence for the permits themselves. This caters to people with temporary limited mobility and those who are permanently affected.

a disability insurance specialist insures this person in wheelchair transferring to car. He may have a disability parking permit

Accessible parking spots – symbol and concessions

You’ll recognise the accessible parking spots available to members of the disability parking scheme. They all have signage with the blue international symbol of ‘people with disability’.

The scheme says that “permit holders can park in parking spaces showing the international symbol of access and can receive concessions in most public parking spaces where the sign or meter shows specific time limits”. Anyone with a disability parking permit can use the space. Regardless of their specific disability.

This means that in all states and territories, people who hold a disability parking permit will be able to use accessible parking.

The overriding aim of the scheme is to make it easier for you to access important services and other locations in lots of ways.

wheelchair accessible vehicle in parking spot. The driver has a disability parking permit

A disability parking space will be located conveniently to the entrance of buildings and other high traffic areas, meaning the distance you need to walk should be shorter than for other parking users. The spaces will also be bigger, so you’re able to get out of your car and reach wheelchairs or mobility aids more easily.

It’s also important to note that your permit will allow you to park in non-accessible parking spots for a longer amount of time than people who don’t hold a permit. Again, the rules around this differ between states and territories so do your research.

Lastly, you can to park in seniors parking and parents-with-prams parking if there are no accessible parking spots available. Read more about this in our Who Can Park in Seniors Parking? What About Disability and Pram Parking article.

Differences in disability parking permits between states

The disability parking scheme is recognised countrywide. But as mentioned there are still differences you should know about. Unfortunately, disability parking permits aren’t completely straightforward across the whole country yet.

It can all be a bit confusing when the rules for your disability parking permit differs from state to territory. For instance, Victoria has two categories of disability parking permit while other states have only one permit.

Across Australia, the permits often look different too. And rules about how to display your permit can differ.

If you’re planning to travel interstate (pandemic restrictions allowing, of course) or aren’t sure about your jurisdiction’s rules, we’ve done some research for you! We’ve written an in-depth guide to why disability parking permits are different between states.

If you’ve ever asked ‘Can I take my disability parking permit in another state,’ you’ll find answers here.

mum uses her disability parking permit in another state for Easter holiday travel

What you should know about disability parking permits and your rights

If you’re living with one or more invisible disabilities, you may feel under pressure not to use the accessible parking spaces. Sometimes, a permit holder may be harassed because they “don’t look disabled”. It shouldn’t happen but it does.

Please, do not let this deter you. Another thing you should know about your disability parking permit? Even if your disability isn’t visible or obvious, you’re entitled to use the parking space. Actually, you’re encouraged and expected to use it!

Unfortunately, you will likely find people without the relevant permits using accessible parking spaces. This tends to get worse during the festive period as shops get busier. And this brings us to another important thing that you as a permit holder should know about disability parking permits! Parking in an accessible space without a permit is illegal. They are there for permit holders exclusively.

If you see someone without a permit using a parking space, what should you do? You can ask them politely first if they realise they’ve parked in a reserved spot. This article has some good advice on handling the situation. If they’re using the spot knowingly and selfishly, you can also report them to the relevant authorities. These are the steps to lodging an accessible parking complaint in Australia.

Got a disability parking permit? Your insurance could be cheaper

As Australia’s first independence and mobility specialist insurance provider, we know disability parking permit holders are normally safer drivers. That’s one of the reasons why we reward you with cheaper insurance premiums – with us you can get discounts of up to 25% on your car insurance. Plus loads of other benefits too.

Find out about our disability car insurance for disability parking permit holders here.

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