Blind and vision impaired will soon be eligible for disability parking permit

Vision-impaired people in Queensland will be eligible for disability parking permits from next year under law changes introduced in Queensland Parliament this week.

Guide Dogs Queensland, along with clients and supporters, has advocated for many years for blind and vision impaired Queenslanders to be included in the eligibility criteria.

Rhett Bryant with his Guide Dog Jeffrey, advocating for blind and vision impaired Queenslanders to be eligible for Disabilty Parking Permits.
Rhett Bryant with his Guide Dog Jeffrey, advocating for blind and vision impaired Queenslanders to be eligible for Disabilty Parking Permits.

“Currently, people who are blind or vision impaired are not permitted to access disability parking bays in Queenland, like those located at shopping centres and major community hubs,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Kightley explained.

“After advocating and pursuing this issue for a number of years, I am very happy to announce that on Tuesday, the Minister for Main Roads introduced a Bill to Parliament that will finally allow Queenslanders who are vision impaired to apply for a Disability Parking Permit.”

Mr Kightley paid tribute to the people who have been instrumental in the push for change.

“Former long-serving Board Member, volunteer, client and valued member of the Guide Dogs Queensland family, Dr John Vance OAM, was instrumental in advocating for this change in Queensland. This Bill is a testament to the incredible legacy that he has left us,” he said.

“This success is also thanks to the support of the our clients, a variety of elected representatives including David Batt MP in Bundaberg, Nick Dematto MP in Townsville and Dr Christian Rowan MP, and the ongoing advocacy work of the Guide Dogs team.”

Brisbane father Rhett Bryant attended Parliament House in October and shared his personal fear of walking through a shopping centre with his Guide Dog Jeffrey.

“Jeffrey is a lot shorter than me, and leads out in front,” Mr Bryant explained. “There’s been too many close calls when a car is reversing and the driver hasn’t seen Jeffrey or myself. I’ve been nudged by a car several times.”

A member of the Guide Dogs Queensland Client Liaison Committee, Mr Bryant said he wanted all Queenslanders to feel safe – wherever they were, especially in busy carparks.

“It’s a tragedy waiting to happen (without access to the permit), but it’s also an easy fix. Let’s hope common sense prevails before there is a tragedy.”

The Bill will now enter the next steps of the Parliamentary process and have a second reading in February, before being debated and hopefully passed mid-year.

Mr Kightley said Guide Dogs Queensland would continue to passionately advocate on behalf of the blind and vision impaired community in Queensland and that the timing, although long overdue, will coincide with Guide Dogs Queensland’s 60th anniversary of service in 2020.