CARERS of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities have won the right to apply for disability parking permits thanks to a campaign by two northeast mums.
Helen Howson, of Modbury North, and Allison Dix, of Banksia Park who between them have three autistic boys successfully lobbied the Federal Government to have non-physical disabilities recognised in a new Australian Disability Parking Scheme.
Mrs Howson and Mrs Dix last year launched a public campaign through the aifLeader Messenger aif, saying they couldn’t take their children shopping or on social outings because the kids became badly distressed during the search for a park and were liable to run dangerously in front of cars.
Announced this month, the new permits can be issued for people with “significant” medical conditions or disabilities which “sometimes requires the physical assistance of another person (to walk) and limits your access to the community”.
The state Transport Department, which administers permits in SA and has recognised only physical disabilities, will now draw up “hardship” criteria allowing a broader range of disabilities to be eligible.
Mrs Howson said the national scheme, set to replace 100 different schemes across the country with a guarantee that nobody will be worse off, was a step towards overcoming discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.
“Disability doesn’t just mean you have a physical impairment, that you have a walking stick or a wheelchair,” she said.
Paul Barbaro, from disability advocacy organisation MALSSA Incm prepared a submission for a national taskforce backing the local mums’ cause. Mr Barbaro said permits would be “life changing” for socially isolated families with severely autistic children.
The national scheme has been referred to the Australian Transport Council for endorsement and will be running by the end of the year.