Parking in Castlemaine can pose grave danger to wheelchair users, Mount Alexander disability advocates say.
Wheelchair users are at risk while getting out of their cars and mounting the kerb in a number of the town’s 26 accessible parking spaces.
Mount Alexander Shire Council has acknowledged that some of the accessible parking spots in Castlemaine do not meet current standards.
Castlemaine’s central business district has about 26 accessible car parks out of 1129 on-street spaces.
The shire has 1164 residents with a disability parking permit.
Getting up and down from gutters in Castlemaine can be a serious safety issue for wheelchair users, Mount Alexander Shire Disability Advocacy Group chairperson Lorraine le Plastrier said.
Ms le Plastrier said that some accessible spaces in the town did not have ramps, meaning wheelchair users often had to travel behind parked cars to get up onto the footpath.
She said it was a serious safety issue, as people in chairs were often too low to be seen from a rear-vision mirror.
“Some parks are in very odd places, I don’t know how they got there,” Ms le Plastrier said.
“If you’re parked in a disabled park that’s in the middle of other parks, and there’s no ramp to get up on the pavement, that's a grave danger.”
Mount Alexander Shire’s director of corporate and community services at Lisa Knight said that the council had recognised the need to improve accessibility within the shire.
It has allocated $86,000 to upgrade eight of the town’s 26 accessible parking spaces to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Parking spaces that are a priority for an upgrade have been identified with the help of MASDAG and will be upgraded this financial year, Ms Knight said.
The amount of accessible car parking available was one of the needs highlighted by a recent community survey about the barriers to inclusion and access across the shire.
Ms le Plastrier emphasised how important accessible spaces were in allowing people with a disability to participate fully in life and the community.
“People with disabilities should have equal human rights, the same as everybody else,” Ms le Plastrier said.
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