The Disability Parking: Understanding Invisible Disabilities

Invisible Disability

As someone who’s spent a lot of time around parking, I’ve seen first hand the misunderstandings that swirl around disability parking. Many people wrongly assume that only those with visible, physical disabilities, such as using wheelchairs, qualify for accessible parking. But in reality, 9 out of 10 disabilities are invisible. Conditions like brain injuries, congestive heart failure, lung disease, MS, neurological disorders, lupus, and arthritis are often invisible to the outside world.

In one of our recent articles, we explored the often misunderstood world of invisible disabilities and the challenges faced by those living with them. This blog continues the conversation on disability parking, focusing on ensuring accessible parking for those who need it.

Enforcing Disability Parking

Disabled Parking

As we all know, it is illegal to park in an accessible parking spot without a permit, with hefty fines for offenders. As we detailed in an earlier article on disability parking, In Australia, fines range anywhere from between $168 in Tasmania, to $619 in Queensland, and in New South Wales, you also cop losing 1 demerit point with your $581 fine for illegally parking in a disabled parking bay without a valid permit. Nonetheless, some well-meaning people also take it upon themselves to enforce around illegal parkers in disability bays. However, often these people  misread the situation, which unfortunately results in wrongly abusing people who have “invisible disabilities” and also genuinely need, and have the right to use these disability parking spots.

And this is where a Survey by Blue Badge found that 74% of people with disabilities have been harassed or abused for “not looking disabled” when legally parking in a disability parking bay. 

Many people with disabilities face verbal abuse, nasty notes, dirty looks, or even vandalism to their vehicles. For instance, Justine Van Den Brne, who has Multiple Sclerosis, found a note on her car that read, “Did you forget your wheelchair?” Despite having a visible Australian Disability Parking Permit, she was unfairly judged. 

In another incident in the US, someone accused a mother and daughter of laziness for parking in a disability spot. The daughter, Kaitlyn, has hypophosphatasia, a genetic disorder that makes her bones weak and brittle. She was born with 13 fractures and has had many more since then. 

Why Disability Parking Permits Are Essential

Before jumping to conclusions when someone pulls into an accessible parking spot, it is important that you  remember that disabilities aren’t always visible. People with prosthetic limbs, chronic pain, or breathing difficulties might find walking long distances very challenging. That’s why these parking spots are so crucial.

Disability parking bay

And as a reminder,  parents and carers of individuals with disabilities who are validly transporting the disabled person at the time, are also permitted to use these disabled parking bays.. They need to be close by to assist with mobility aids or other needs. 

This provision ensures they can assist with mobility aids or other needs. Various state-specific regulations and guidelines contain the relevant legislation on this matter.

For instance, the Queensland Government specifies that a disability parking permit must be displayed when the permit holder is getting in or out of the vehicle, which implies that parents or carers transporting the disabled person can use these bays as long as the permit holder is present and the permit is displayed properly​ 

Similarly, the Local Government (Parking for Disabled Persons) Regulations 1988 in Western Australia outlines that a vehicle identified with an ACROD sticker (the equivalent of a disability parking permit) can use designated disabled parking bays. The regulation allows the permit holder, parents, or carers to use the vehicle for transportation purposes.

Reporting Misuse of Disability Parking

If you ever see a car parked in a disability space without a permit, there are proper channels to report it. 

disability parking bays
  • You can report illegally parked cars to your local council , the police, or the management of a private parking facility.
  • The Council can then enforce or issue a fine.
  • To avoid confrontation, you might want to consider trying the Snap, Send, Solve app, where you can very easily take a photo of the offending vehicle, upload it to the site, with a brief note, and then the app does all the rest to report it to the appropriate authority to take action.
  • It’s important to avoid taking matters into your own hands.self-appointed enforcer actions, such as leaving nasty notes or damaging vehicles, are illegal and only make things worse.

Qualifying for a Disability Parking Permit

The Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS) aims to assist individuals with genuine mobility disabilities. Authorities do not issue permits lightly. To qualify, individuals must meet specific criteria and provide a doctor’s certificate.

In NSW, for example, if you use a wheelchair or other mobility aid, or if your condition significantly impacts your ability to walk 100 metres, you can receive a permit. These permits allow parking in spaces marked with the international symbol of access and often come with other concessions. 

Using parking bollards to secure disabled parking You can very effectively protect disabled parking spots by installing parking bollards. Bollards are an incredibly simple yet powerful tool for maintaining the integrity of accessible parking spaces. An automated parking bollard can prevent unauthorised vehicles from occupying these accessible parking spots.


Installing parking bollards ensures that only individuals with the appropriate permits use disabled parking spots, regardless of whether their disabilities are visible or not. Disabled parking permits do not distinguish between visible and invisible disabilities, and neither should those who attempt to personally enforce parking rules. Automatic parking bollards are easy to use, making them accessible for people with disabilities. They serve as a visible deterrent against misuse and offer a practical solution to a growing problem.

A well-placed parking bollard can significantly reduce instances of misuse, ensuring that only individuals with the appropriate permits use these disabled parking spots, whether their disabilities are visible or not.

Integrating bollards into the design of accessible parking bays creates a more secure and respectful environment for those with disabilities.

Addressing Misconceptions about Disability Parking

Understanding and respect are key to resolving the disability parking debate. And part of this is recognising that disabilities are not always visible. Issuing disability parking permits requires a medical certificate. So before you intervene if you can’t see that someone has a visible disability, make sure you don’t join the population making unwarranted accusations that harass or abuse the 74% of persons with disabilities for parking there. By securing parking bays with Parking bollards , we send a clear message that these spaces are reserved for those who need them. It’s a simple step that can have a significant impact.

At, we are proud to be a leading provider of parking bollards in Australia. Our mission constantly aims to solve parking stress and ensure accessible parking bays available for those who truly need them.

Disability Parking Consultation