No Park, No Permit: This story will inspire you to stand up for what you believe in 290



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Elisha Wright has been shouted at, physically threatened and regularly receives hate mail but she says it’s all worthwhile. The Queensland mum, along with 1300 or so community members, has found a way to set something right in this world and, although it can be tough at times, she knows from firsthand experience that it makes a massive difference to people’s lives.

Elisha is the founder of the grassroots campaign No Permit No Park, which combats able-bodied people using disabled parking spots.

It all came about when Elisha found herself in a wheelchair after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It soon became clear that few people thought twice about parking in spaces reserved for people with disabilities. When Elisha challenged offenders on this, she heard the same excuses over and over again:

  • “It was only for a minute”
  • “My husband has a permit (but he’s at home)”
  • “I’ve got a child, it’s the same thing”

One night, after a particularly nasty run in with a couple who saw Elisha using her walking aide but still refused to acknowledge they were in the wrong, she went home and penned a blog post venting her frustration. The post went viral and was read all over Australia and beyond; Elisha realised she wasn’t alone.

From there came a website and Facebook page where hundreds of people can share photos of people misusing disabled parking spaces, support each other and have a good old rant.

“Sometimes the sheer ignorance you’re faced with is stunning and people really needed somewhere safe to vent about this,” says Elisha.”It’s been most effective for people who feel no one cares or wants to help”.

Supporters of the campaign are people with and without disability.

The most successful part of the campaign is a flyer members can download from the website, print and keep in their car to pop under the wiper blade of offending vehicles. It says, “It’s very tempting to park here without a permit. After all, you’ll only be a minute right?” and goes onto explain what it’s like to live with a disability, outline the legislation regarding reserved parking spaces, and encourage the driver to set an example in the community.

Elisha says, “We do get hate mail but many other people’s response is ‘I didn’t know’. Knowing we’ve reached one person and changed their attitude is what makes it all worthwhile”.

No Permit No Park is completely volunteer and member-run; it receives no funding from Government, however Elisha has been invited to meet with government departments to advise on access issues, and Queensland Police is running Operation No Permit No Park, which is cracking down on offenders in Brisbane city.

When asked how others can take a stand for something they believe in, Elisha had this advice: “The first thing to do is be able to tell the story, then it’s  about reaching people and getting them to think about the issue from that perspective. It doesn’t take a lot to build a website or Facebook page; social media is fantastic for reaching people. And don’t be afraid to engage your local MP. We took this issue to our MP and  it expanded from there”.

We think Elisha’s story is incredibly inspiring and we hope you do too.


Tell us: what’s something you would like to change in the world? And do you know of any other fantastic initiatives that do something to improve the world? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I hope WA will enforce the ruling of losing demerit points if you park in a disabled parking space without a permit. I am wheelchair dependent, and I get very angry when I see people abusing the disabled parking spots. Maybe if the law toughened up, disabled people wouldn’t have trouble finding a parking spot.

    3 REPLY
    • Yes it should Carmel. Obviously you’re not disabled, and don’t need to use the dps. Then again, maybe you are one of these ppl that park illegally. I hope you never end up in a wheelchair, but then maybe if you did, you would see just how frustrating it can be.

    • I am in W.A. but I didn’t know you would lose demerit points for illegally parking without the permit, I have a permit myself and at times have had difficulty finding a parking place. I have noticed that they do state the cost of the fines on a lot of spaces, from $100 to $1000, it should be the same charge applied all over, but I have never heard of this being carried out and I think that is another reason, most people KNOW they can get away with it so don’t worry.

  2. I wish all states would do this – I used to take elderly people shopping and some had a permit which I would display but was hard pushed to find a disabled spot with many cars parked without displaying a permit or just being selfish and using the space causing my clients to have to walk a further distance – just not right

  3. I don’t understand the sense of entitlement that tells people it’s okay to be selfish enough to take a parking spot from someone who really needs it.

  4. I have the same issues this is why I now print these off and i place them on the offending car and take a photo and put it on F/B, I even had one young lady move her car after i took the photo, she then called Police & security and i was abused by security at Dandenong Plaza and i had a call from Dandenong Police telling me that what i was doing was illegal as she was parked properly but that changed after i showed them her moving car after i sprung her in a Disabled park

    1 REPLY
    • Fabulous. Love the stickers. My brother in law has one he puts on cars parked illegally with “wanker” on it. Though I do prefer yours.

  5. I agree that they are misused widely, but I have a permit and if you just looked at me, you would not know I had a disability. If I get out of the car with permit displayed, what’s to stop people from thinking there is nothing wrong with me. I don’t want to have to tell people what my illness is. I don’t use my permit unless it is absolutely necessary.

    22 REPLY
    • Especially when the driver happens to park in such designated areas, assisting his/her family member in & out of the car & into a wheelchair! Most rude comments come from females, sad to say!

    • I’m with u have one I struggle have a permit but if u look me u say “what the” she don’t need one. People don’t know I can’t be bothered with their ignorance anymore. However grocery shopping I don’t care I say bring on.

    • About five weeks ago a lady told me i was in a disabled park and I pointed out my permit. She said “yeh right, nothing wrong with you”

    • Sorry for your experience Fran….. Unfortunately you can’t fix stupid ppl mostly. Use it because you are PERMITTED to.

    • In the same boat Fran and sometimes rowing the boat is tough – BUT now I use it as necessary and don’t worry about those who stare because as it has been said not all disabilities are seen. Good luck to all and try not to worry so – it’s not worth it. People, all of us are sometimes thoughtless and yes it hurts and frustrates but we just move on and think, “There but for the Grace of God go I!”

    • Yes – I am like you and I only use mine when I really need to but have been abused by people 3 times because to them I look OK – I have progressive lung disease and serious pain problems and it is stressful enough without that.

    • I am the same. I have a rare, chronic, painful disease. And yes, I look normal, and yes I am out of my wheelchair now, but some days just driving is difficult. If people abuse me, I kindly ask them if they are a doctor. Not all disabilities are visible!

    • I agree not all disabilities are visible, and we with Permits pay to park in these bays… maybe others don’t realise there is a cost involved for Accrod permits…

    • Just refer them to the council that supplied you with the disability card. I also do not look unwell, damaged, but my breathing is so restricted that I cannot walk up an incline or ramp.

    • Tell them that if they have a problem then report it to the appropriate authorities. In the meantime, P-off.

    • So agree Fran. I have often been abused by people over the years but as I have gotten worse its slowed down. I never ever would explain or answer these people though at times I was really worried as they followed me. Yes Sharon many times.
      What I really hate is business owners or tradesmen who constantly park in or across disabled parks. Given the chance I will say something to them and even report to their boss if they have company name.

    • I say now. Are you healthy ? I’ll swap my permit for your good health please. Any time. I’m the same nothing really visible. Some days i manage better other days it’s like hell but nothing shows. Plus people don’t realise permits aren’t free!! Not v much but in my case add in $25 for doctors visit each year as well to renew. Parents with prams don’t pay?!?

    • It is the council business if you park in a disabled bay – haters will hate but don’t be too upset with these people they are actually on your side – people like the tradie the other day in his work ute for example now we all know he is a lazy little shit – but if you have the right to park then put up your authority sign it is no different to displaying a parking ticket you are just obeying the rules involved

    • I am in the same boat and only use my permit when I have to visit the hospital as the parking around that area is horrific and although you can get 2 hours that does not help if the doc is running late.

  6. You see people doing this they say they are just dropping someone off .Than a car comes in with a sticker they cant park because this bloo….dy car is there

  7. There are too many able bodied people using disabled parking spaces, the worst offenders are Some seniors who think it’s their right to do so. Very annoying when they get out of their car and briskly walk away!

    6 REPLY
    • Jan if someone has a pass they have it for a good reason. I start off walking well but by the time I get my shopping done I am in agony which is why I try to park as close as possible & use either the seniors spot or the disabled spots. Need to be careful about judging people.

    • Jan I understand how you feel & Kay I have the same problem as you but not quiet as bad i would think i don’t have a disable permit but its just human nature to see an able bodied person & think there is nothing wrong with them

    • I went to the doctor & have a lifetime pass not just a 6mth pass due to the severity of my knees which is getting worse all the time.

    • It is not only seniors doing this, I have witnessed youths doing the same!! Trouble is these areas are not policed relying on people’s honesty is obviously not working.

    • I queried a young fellow the other day at the shopping centre, about parking in the wrong spot, as there was no permit displayed, and got told to piss of. So I quietly spoke to the security guard about if, a few minutes later the young fellow was moved on. One up for yhe tight thing.

    • I was in the city one day a few months ago and witnessed a male park a ute (with a pass) in a disabled park and then walked to a construction sight and began working. What a joke

      2 REPLY
      • I understand it is not easy to obtain a disabled sticker in NSW so when you have one you value it. Also the fine for parking in a disabled park is $519 and you get a demerit point.

  8. I’m the same as Fran Spears. Not all disabilities are visible and I have a medical condition that physically limits me but it’s not obvious to anyone looking at me.

    4 REPLY

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