For most of my life I have lived in NSW. Since a kid I have been on the NSW Government Artificial Limb Scheme and have had a disability parking permit from the RTA.
When I was a young kid my poor Mum had to deal with her fair share of rude and nosy strangers, mostly older people, whenever she would park in a disabled carpark.
In their eyes they would see a young fit Mum with a toddler in a pram and a little blonde girl by her side. They didn’t know the little blonde girl had one leg but they sure had no problem berating Mum for parking where she did. Over the years she developed a number of wise cracking one-liners to throw back to the rude comments but it can’t have been easy.
Despite the comments and glares from strangers the permit is a blessing that I could not live without.
Even though my disability is permanent and there is no chance my leg will grow back anytime soon, every five years in order to get the permit renewed I have to see a doctor and get them to fill out a form that essentially confirms that yes, I am still disabled.
It’s an annoying process but a fairly simple one. However, the process is not so simple in Queensland. In fact nothing about being disabled and wanting to drive is simple or pain free in Queensland
In order to drive I have had my car modified to include a left foot accelerator which is pulled down when I drive but can be switched for a right foot one if someone else happens to want to drive my car.
When I first got my licence in NSW they simply put a letter on the licence to symbolize that I had my car modified and while I was required to carry around the engineer’s certificate from the modification, that was it.
In Queensland I am yet to leave the motor registry without a great deal of frustration and tears.
When I first transferred my licence over from NSW to QLD I figured it would simply be a case of filling out the form at the motor registry and transferring it across.
I got to the counter to hand the paperwork in and pay my fee and the girl asked me where my doctor’s certificate was.
I was puzzled, why would I need a doctor’s certificate, I wasn’t medically unfit to drive?
She explained that in QLD they had recently brought in Jet’s Law after a young boy was killed in an accident by a car driven by a man having an epileptic fit.
The law states anyone with a medical condition is required by law to carry around a doctor’s certificate deeming them fit to drive which must be updated each year.
I can see the importance of the law but as I told the girl I didn’t have a medical condition that would in anyway affect how I drove, I simply had my car modified to accommodate my disability. And it certainly wouldn’t change year to year.
She wasn’t having a bar of it. Nor did it seem to matter that I was currently fit to drive in NSW and had the license to prove it.
And so I left frustrated and cursing my leg and the ridiculous red tape I had to go through.
My next encounter with the QLD motor registry was just the other week when my disabled parking permit had come up for renewal. A year or so ago the government had changed the scheme from individual state permits to a national permit that could be used across the country.
Since I had originally held the NSW permit, it was the RTA that sent me the renewal forms and the form the doctor had to sign to prove that yes in fact I still had one leg.
Even though I am now living in QLD I figured it wouldn’t matter what form it was since it was now a national scheme, so off I went to see the doctor.
He signed off that my leg hadn’t miraculously grown back and I took it in to the motor registry. The girl looked at the form with a frown.
“This is the wrong form,” she barked at me.
I apologised and told her I didn’t think it would matter since it was a national scheme and besides a QLD doctor had signed off on it.
“Yes but the signature is not on our forms, with our letterhead,” she informed me.
I was getting frustrated but tried to maintain my composure.
“Yes but surely it doesn’t matter, all you really need is the signature isn’t it? Surely you aren’t going to make me go back to the doctor just so he can sign basically the same form.”
Turns out she was.
So again I left the motor registry in frustration and close to tears.
When I returned with the correct form and handed it in they informed me that unlike NSW, the form would have to be sent to a panel who would make the final decision of my suitability and would take up to four weeks.
Being disabled is hard enough why must the QLD government add extra obstacles of difficulty?