30 July 2021

Serious offences require serious signage: retirees fight for disabled parking clarity

| Dominic Giannini
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Mawson resident Don at disabled parking spot

Mawson resident Don wants clearer signage to mark disabled parking spots after his wife was recently fined. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A disabled parking spot outside Mawson Domino’s pizza is the latest spark in an ongoing debate about roads and parking problems in Canberra following a retired couple being slugged $615 after missing the sign.

Mawson retirees, Don and his wife, Perry, are angry their calls for the ACT Government to fix up the sign and make it clearer have fallen on deaf ears after they brought it to the attention of Access Canberra and two government ministers.

Admitting the couple is “not as sharp as we once were”, Don points out the signage is “far from helpful” due to its neglected state, not being featured in a prominent position, and not being consistent with other sites reserved for drivers with a disability.

“Because of the paucity of signage, many of your constituents (particularly those coping with age-related decline) are exposed to the same horrible, innocent error my wife made last November,” Don wrote in an email to ACT Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel.

Exterior of Domino's pizza in Mawson

A Domino’s pizza sign covering the disabled parking sign at Mawson Shopping Centre. Photo: Supplied.

“Meanwhile, we also believe some drivers with disability permits pass this site, unaware it is reserved for them.”

In response, Mr Steel said a Transport Canberra and City Services officer had reviewed the site and confirmed the signs and line markings are up to the standards in place when they were installed.

The parking spot in Mawson does not have the blue and white disabled signage as some other spots across Canberra do.

Mr Steel said it would be unrealistic to update all of Canberra’s 85,000 signs every time new standards come into place, and that the ACT Government only updates signs when they are damaged or need to be replaced.

Disable parking spot in Mawson

The disabled parking signs are placed high on a shopfront wall and covered by the shade. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The officer decided the spot was clearly marked with signs on the building and the disabled symbol on the road, wrote Mr Steel.

But Don, who has been living in the area for half a decade, tells Region Media he had never noticed the spot was reserved for disabled drivers despite frequenting the area.

The $615 fine cannot be revoked, despite Perry’s good driving record, because it is classified as a serious offence.

Don agrees it should be classified as a serious offence, but that Access Canberra needs to reflect this in its signage.

Cars parked in front of Domino's pizza in Mawson

The disabled parking signs at the front of Domino’s pizza in Mawson are back from the curb and are often covered by shade. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“Frankly, I think the fine is unfair because the signage is inadequate,” says Don. “Someone is asleep at the wheel. They have ignored this site and they are just not prepared to do anything about it.

“It is a reprehensible offence, and I cannot have any sympathy for people who use spots reserved for the disabled.

“But being a serious offence, it is a two-edged sword. It requires the parking people to ensure they take the signage seriously.”

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a lot is two words9:07 pm 02 Oct 21

Hello – do we have an outcome to this case? I’ve just received the same fine in the mail and am in complete shock. I’ve gone to these shops for years on and off and had no idea this was a disabled park. I find parking illegally in spots allocated for those living with disability reprehensible so am mortified. I googled this in disbelief and came across this article which has given me some comfort knowing I’m not the only (ageing) Canberran who has made this mistake. If this case went ahead I’m amazed the Govt hasn’t taken one of the sensible suggestions above and spent a few $ on some orange paint. This fine is going to hurt (more so because it wasn’t deliberate).

After a year of horrible stress we are grateful and immensely relieved that this matter was dismissed on 17 December 2021. The Magistrate was not satisfied the alleged offence was proven. Signs on walls are over the footpath, not on or above the road as required. Access Canberra’s failure to install the respected International Symbol of Access on the road pavement is unhelpful to all motorists, with or without disability permits.

Capital Retro4:52 pm 02 Aug 21

An Access Canberra executive might be collecting performance bonuses?


Walk around Braddon on any week day and more than half the cars have disabled permits. It seems there’s a lot of disabled people in Canberra.

And your point is, Oiledpengu?

Capital Retro4:34 pm 02 Aug 21

I think his point is that the concession is rorted heavily – just like the NDIS is being rorted.

Obviously you are entitled to your opinion, Capital Retro

Capital Retro4:49 pm 02 Aug 21

But I am not entitled to a parking concession or NDIS benefits therefore I do not seek them.

OK CapitalRetro – YOU are not entitled, so YOU do not seek them … end of story

I should have taken a photo of the car and parking position of a prominent and wealthy Canberran who was displaying a Disabled pass on the dash of his Ferrari.

Gave me and my colleagues a great laugh and also gave the driver unlimited Civic parking in a 15 minute parking spot.

Did you see who got out? Perhaps the passenger was the person with the disabled permit – otherwise I’d support you ‘naming and shaming’ the individual

bj_ACT, just because a ‘prominent and wealthy Canberran’ has a disability pass on the dash of his Ferrari doesn’t mean that he isn’t disabled. A disability doesn’t not usually change based on your income. As for getting unlimited parking in Civic, that is incorrect. Taken from the Access Canberra website regarding disability parking. “Mobility parking permit holders can also park free of charge in ticket parking areas, ACT Government operated car parks and on-street parking spaces that are free, but time restricted:
for up to two hours, if the time limit on the parking sign is 30 minutes or less; and,
for an unlimited time, if the time limit on the parking sign is more than 30 minutes.”

HiddenDragon6:05 pm 01 Aug 21

So we have a government which is portraying itself as valiantly crusading for the disabled when the costs are borne by others –


but it can’t find the spare change to make sure that on-road and nearby disabled parking signs are clear and unambiguous.

Absolutely typical of the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude of this mob.

Since when are disabled parking signs put on walls back from the road? I thought they should be on poles. It very wrong to fine someone here, with an almost invisible paint job on the road and effectively NO sign.

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