Across Australia thousands of disability parking permits (DPP) have been supplied to people with disability to make life a little easier when travelling. Anyone with an impairment that limits their mobility is eligible to apply for one.

As part of their DPP, holders are eligible for certain allowances and entitlements to accommodate their mobility restrictions such as free parking and the ability to park longer in time limited spaces.

While a necessity for so many, the convenience of parking in an accessible space combined with the extra benefits a permit provides can for unscrupulous individuals to attempt getting one fraudulently.

Thankfully, it’s not so easy for these selfish people to do so. The process of qualifying for a disability parking permit is by no means easy or quick; and includes numerous checks and balances to ensure the applicant is deserving of the permit.

Furthermore, despite popular opinion, you cannot purchase a disability parking permit in Australia.

Before we look into how to get a disability parking permit, let’s explore what it is exactly.

What is a Disability Parking Permit?

Today, there are three types of DPP: Individual, Temporary and Organisation. These replaced more than 100 different types of permits that were once available, and they were introduced with increased security features to reduce fraudulent misuse and to make it easier for permit holders to travel interstate.

These new regulations have helped standardise the qualifying criteria for disability parking permits across Australia and, in doing so, increased the difficulty for an able-bodied person sneakily being approved for one. Contrary to some opinions a DPP is not easy to come by because there are a number of hoops to jump through to attain one.

Let’s look at what the permit allows.

What a DPP allows you to do

Disability parking permits allow drivers to park in designated spaces featuring the international access symbol and permit holders are also given concessions for parking in time-limited spaces.

As the Australian Disability Parking Scheme website says, “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.”

Every state and territory must meet the minimum national standards as a starting point. From there they have the flexibility to provide further concessions to meet their DPP holders’ needs. This is why parking permit regulations differ in each state and territory.

This means that if you’re travelling interstate you need to be aware that your usual concessions may not apply. And if you are planning to move interstate permanently you need to re-apply for a permit in your new state/territory as soon as you get a chance to. Click here to read about using your permit interstate.

Even though rules differ between each, in most cases the DPP holder needs to renew the permit with their local authority every three to five years.

The steps to get a disability parking permit different in each state and territory too, though again only slightly. Here are the facts.

Application Criteria to Get a Disability Parking Permit

So, just how easy is it for someone to fly under the radar and obtain a permit that should not be in their hands? What evidence do you need to apply for an Individual disability parking permit?

In most states, at the very least you need to demonstrate that it’s difficult for you to walk 100m or without some assistance (e.g. using a walker, wheelchair or other mobility equipment). That is, eligibility centres on one’s capacity to walk.

For example, to be eligible in New South Wales you must either be blind (this is not the case for a number of other states/territories) or have a mobility disability. There, a mobility disability is defined by legislation as someone:

  • Unable to walk due to the permanent or temporary loss of use of one or both legs, or other permanent medical or physical condition
  • 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.

If you’re a Queensland resident, you may be eligible if one of the following applies to you:

  • Unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair
  • Ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability that you will have for 6 months or more as certified by your doctor or occupational therapist.

Further, Queensland applicants with intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive or sensory impairment who want to get a disability parking permit don’t meet the eligibility criteria on that alone. They must also have a mobility impairment that impacts on their ability to walk.

While in Western Australia, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair, or
  • Your ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or disability, or
  • Your ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability.

And in South Australia, you can apply to get a disability parking permit if these factors reflect your situation:

  • A permanent physical impairment or a temporary impairment that is likely to continue for more than six months
  • The impairment severely restricts speed of movement
  • The impairment significantly inhibits the ability to access public transport.

Steps to Get a Disability Parking Permit

If the above sounds like you or you loved one then you’re halfway there. Now comes the paperwork.

In most states and territories the steps involve:

  1. Complete an application form.
  2. Meet with a GP to discuss whether they agree that you need a disability parking permit. If they do, they must complete part of the application form to define and substantiate the medical reasons why you need the permit[1]. In many cases, they have to include documentation detailing your medical condition, how long you have had the condition and how it impacts your mobility.
  3. Some GPs may also need a letter from your occupational therapist.
  4. Send/take the application to the offices of the issuing authority (mode of delivery depends on your state/territory).
  5. Along with the application you’ll also need to present documentary evidence such as proof of identity and you may also need to present a Centrelink disability pension card, supporting letter/s, photo exemption letter, and so on.

Not the easiest of processes but one that helps keep out many dishonest people who try to get a disability parking permit because they simply want the concessions rather than need them.

[1] * Note this does not need to happen in some cases, e.g. in the ACT and NSW being endorsed as ‘blind’ on a Centrelink disability pension card is enough proof

Who is allowed to use a DPP?

There are different types of disability parking permits issued for different usage types, which we touched on earlier:

  1. Individual– Issued for 5 years to people with a permanent disability.

These individuals can use their permit, obviously, and so can their family, friends and support workers – but only when transporting the permit holder in a vehicle. Using someone’s permit when they are not in the vehicle can results in hefty fines.

  1. Temporary– Issued for up to 6 months to people with a temporary disability, for example a leg injury.

These same rules as above apply in this situation and it’s courtesy to do away with the permit before the time limit if the temporary disability has been resolved. Let’s leave the accessible parking spaces and concessions for those who really need it.

  1. Organisation– Available only to organisations that provide transport for people with disability.

Similarly, workers from the organisation can only use the disability parking permit when it is providing transport services for people who meet the permit eligibility criteria

Where things can appear to grey a little is when people have a disability that isn’t obvious, but this is only a perception.

Parking permits for invisible disabilities

What a lot of abled people don’t realise, and even some who are living with a visible disability, is that there are many individuals across Australia who are living with invisible disabilities (or, hidden disabilities). And although their disability isn’t immediately apparent because they don’t always use mobility equipment like wheelchairs and mobility scooters, often they need an Individual disability permit too because their condition prevents them from walking long distances without significant difficulty and/or pain.

Just like those with a visible disability, their eligibility for a DPP comes down to their functional capacity to walk, the restrictions they experience with their mobility.

More importantly, these people must apply for the permit in the same way as those with a visible disability. This means they have acquired them legally (and somewhat painstakingly) and are entitled to use accessible parking spaces.

Invisible disabilities are wide-ranging and include cancer, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome. For many, their invisible disability unfortunately limits their ability to move and be active, just like a visible one can.

So, many individuals with an invisible disability very much have the right to appreciate the benefits of a disability parking permit.

Whatever the case, visible or invisible, it’s important to know that those who have been issued a disability parking permit – after jumping through all the hoops – deserve to be able to park closer, have more time to return to the car and so on. They’re entitled to space, no matter what things look like on the surface.

Another Benefit of a DPP – Discounted Car Insurance

Have you taken the steps to get a disability parking permit, been approved and are now wondering if you’re eligible for something else to help make life a little easier? Read on…

Blue Badge Insurance know that most insurers don’t understand disability and often quote higher premiums. Mistakenly, they consider disability permit users to be high-risk drivers.

Not so with us. As Australia’s first independence and disability insurance specialist, Blue Badge understands this space. We know disability permit holders are generally safer drivers who represent a lower risk and we think they deserve to be rewarded with lower prices.

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