An Open Letter to the Department of Transport and Main Roads

Australian Disability Parking Permit

I don’t expect reasonable waiting times for services from you. I accept that in the world of government a reasonable time period for me to pay my toll is three days, but the reasonable time to process my application for a Disability Parking Permit (something designed to significantly increase quality of life and participation in society of a vulnerable minority group) is 28 days. I understand that efficiency is not the name of this game.

What I do expect you to do is be honest about what you are doing, and the relevant waiting period for that action.

Being called up to a standing-only desk at your Chermside office to apply for a Disabled Parking Permit was a clear sign that you don’t really care about the people seeking assistance from you. But I’m used to my limited mobility and ability to stand being something that should only ever inconvenience me.

The first hint I had of your blasé attitude towards the truth was your phone line assuring me that “the current wait time to speak to an operator is less than five minutes” on multiple occasions while I sat on hold for over ten. While it’s great to hear the recorded line “we recognise your time is valuable”, you should understand that most people would prefer you to be upfront about the fact that they should expect to wait fifteen minutes. That way they will be thrilled when your hold music ends three minutes earlier than anticipated.

I would never have discovered the wonders of your hold music if you hadn’t failed to notify me of the outcome of my application within the 28 days you note on your website. Not wanting to be a bother (and concerned I would spend twenty minutes on the phone only to be told that your website says “approximately” 28 days), I waited 40 days after applying to contact you and check if everything was okay. Turns out, everything was not okay. Your Chermside office had failed to process any part of my application other than the unrefundable processing fee for it.

Now I will admit this was not necessarily an institutional failure, and so I was feeling quite forgiving when you told me that you would print and post my permit that day, 18 March, and that it would be with me in a few days.

I called again March 26, (luckily I had time to sit on hold as I was already going to miss a lecture due to being unable to walk from the carpark to the theatre), to find that you didn’t even send my application to the printers until 24 March. But you informed me the good news was that I might receive it by the end of the next week, 56 days after lodging my application.

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but Queensland’s motto is “Bold but Faithful”. Maybe in the future you should focus a little bit more on the second half of that, and be honest rather then “optimistic” with your waiting times.

As it turns out, I finally did receive my permit 56 days after lodging my application. After two months of barely leaving the house because even if I could work up the energy to do something, that would be used up by the walk between my car and my destination.

Four months later, I don’t know how I would get out of the house without my permit. Except I suppose I do, because I’ve been in that position, and the answer is that I simply wouldn’t. So I am incredibly grateful that disabled parking permits are available to increase the ability of people with disabilities to participate in their community. I am incredibly grateful that Queensland has some of the best concessions for people with disabilities parking of any states and territories in Australia. But I dread my permit expiring on 20 March 2016, and how I will have the energy to go through all of this again.

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