Queenslanders with vision loss will soon be able to apply for disability parking permits under legislation changes passed in parliament today (Tuesday, 14 July).

The Transport Legislation (Disability Parking and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was passed in Queensland Parliament today, meaning Queenslanders living with vision loss or blindness will soon be able to apply for a disability parking permit. The change will come into effect from 31 August, 2020.

Guide Dogs Queensland Chief Executive Officer Michael Kightley welcomed the news, calling it a win for safety and equality for our clients and their families.

“For many years, Guide Dogs Queensland has been advocating on behalf of our clients and their families to allow them safe access to carparks at shopping centres, schools and other busy areas all around Queensland,” Mr Kightley said.

“During our many years of campaigning, we found most Queenslanders were surprised to learn that vehicles transporting people who were blind or had significant vision loss were unable to use the disability parking bays provided at the entrance to their local shopping centre or outside their doctor’s office.

“As of today, that wish for our clients to be equal in the disability parking permit criteria is becoming a reality, so we are really happy.”

Guide Dog handler Rhett standing in a disability parking space with guide dog Jeffrey.

A survey of Guide Dogs Queensland clients last year found 92% felt unsafe when moving through car parks and 58% avoided going out altogether due to having to navigate these busy traffic environments.

“These common-sense changes passed today will have a huge effect on improving people’s safety but also their confidence to get out in the community more.

“I’d like to pass on my thanks and the thanks of the whole vision loss community to Minister Bailey and his department, and the support of other key MPs like David Batt and Dr Christian Rowan, Shane King, Nick Dametto and the Members of the Katter Party, and Minister Coralee O’Rourke for helping making this victory possible.”

Guide Dogs Queensland General Manager Jock Beveridge said the change would now bring Queensland in line with many other states around Australia.

“We’ve had people in New South Wales who have these permits, but when they cross the border into Queensland they no longer have the right to park in these same disability parking spaces,” Mr Beveridge said.

“It is great that we are now aligned with our neighbouring states.”

Guide Dogs Queensland General Manager Jock Beveridge standing beside a Disability Parking sign on site at Guide Dogs.

Mr Beveridge said the changes had been “a long time in the making” and were only possible because of people power.

“We have had the support of so many clients who willingly shared their frightening experiences in carparks to help push for this change. They deserve the right to feel safe and have the confidence to move around independently, and we are pleased this legislation will now help provide this.

“I also want to thank the many donors who help fund this crucial advocacy work. More than 90% of our funding comes from community donations. Without the community’s support, we would not be here in this position today.”

Mr Kightley thanked everyone who had been involved in the campaign to make this happen.

“I want to acknowledge one of Guide Dogs Queensland’s long-serving clients and board members, Dr John Vance, who was the driving force for this change. John sadly passed away just over a year ago, but this would have been a proud day today to be in Parliament and see this legislation passed,” Mr Kightley said.

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