Fines have almost doubled across WA for people who illegally park in disabled bays.
For the first time since 2014, the cost of misusing ACROD bays has increased from $300-$500 and court-imposed penalties to between $2000 and $5000.
About 4.4m Australians have a disability and more than three-quarters of that number report having a physical disorder as their main disability, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Spinal Life Australia support worker Karen Harvey is reliant on access to disabled parking after a car accident in 1992 left her a paraplegic.
Mrs Harvey says that people illegally using disabled car parks is a constant issue for people like herself, who need them most.
“If you can’t find a free disabled bay you have to park in a regular spot, and it’s really difficult to have to ask a stranger to reverse your car for you so you can put your wheelchair back in the car,” she said.
She says losing the limited ACROD parking spots to healthy bodied individuals makes completing grocery shopping even more difficult for those with a physical handicap.
Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson says that the WA community strongly recognises people with disabilities and believes they should have the support to accessible venues.
“These penalties will target those few people who fail to recognise how important measures such as ACROD parking bays are to those who need them most” he said.
National Disability Service (NDS) state manager Julia Waylen could not respond to questions by the time this article went to print.
The NDS website says: “We welcome the increase in penalties as a deterrent for illegal parking in ACROD bays and will continue to advocate to ensure accessible parking bays are available for those who need them most to build a more inclusive WA.”