DRIVER NOT ‘ DIS­ABLED ENOUGH’ Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis suf­ferer ha­rassed by busy­bod­ies

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­DREW BACKHOUSE an­drew. back­house1@ news. com. au

HE DOESN’T look “dis­abled enough” to park in dis­abled spa­ces and busy­bod­ies are mak­ing his life hell.

Townsville man Taukiri Roberts reg­u­larly faces abuse and dirty looks for park­ing in dis­abled park­ing spa­ces.

Mr Roberts has mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, a con­di­tion of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem for which there is no cure.

The de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tion in­ter­feres with nerve im­pulses within the brain, spinal cord and op­tic nerves and can lead to in­vol­un­tary move­ments and paral­y­sis.

Mr Roberts said he was up­set by the abuse and wished peo­ple would stop say­ing ter­ri­ble things to him.

“I usu­ally think of happy thoughts to get over it,” he said. “I wish peo­ple would stop giv­ing me dirty looks and mind their own busi­ness.”

Mr Roberts’s wife Tima said that, de­spite his out­side ap­pear­ance, he was not healthy and needed a dis­abil­ity park­ing per­mit.

She said peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties had enough prob­lems to deal with with­out be­ing tar­geted for abuse from strangers at shop­ping cen­tres.

“My hus­band and fam­ily had gone through enough prob­lems. He has MS and that’s for life,” she said.

“He has to dis­play his hand­i­cap sticker on our car and it is there for a rea­son.”

The cou­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ence is all too com­mon.

Mrs Roberts said they went to a lo­cal bank on Tues­day and were ap­proached by an elderly man when they parked their car.

“He walked right up to our car win­dow to check our sticker, gave us a dirty look and walked off,” she said.

“Later we went to Coles to get our din­ner and an elderly lady said ‘ you don’t even look dis­abled’ to my hus­band. We couldn’t be both­ered ex­plain­ing the sit­u­a­tion to her.

“My hus­band was di­ag­nosed with MS five years ago and this hap­pens all the time.”

Mrs Roberts said it was im­por­tant for peo­ple not to be judg­men­tal of oth­ers with­out know­ing the facts.

“Please don’t judge a book by its cover,” she said.

“It’s very an­noy­ing get­ting the dirty look by the elderly when they are sup­posed to be role mod­els for the young gen­er­a­tion.”

Queens­land res­i­dents are el­i­gi­ble for Aus­tralian dis­abil­ity per­mits if they are un­able to walk and al­ways re­quire the use of a wheel­chair.

Per­mits are also is­sued to peo­ple whose abil­ity to walk is se­verely re­stricted by a per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary med­i­cal con­di­tion.

Red per­mits, which are used by ex­ist­ing per­mit hold­ers, are no longer be­ing is­sued by the State Gov­ern­ment.

HE WALKED RIGHT UP TO OUR CAR WIN­DOW TO CHECK OUR STICKER, GAVE US A DIRTY LOOK AND WALKED OFF TIMA ROBERTS, WIFE OF MS SUF­FERER TAUKIRI

SICK OF IT: MS suf­ferer Taukiri Roberts is of­ten abused for park­ing in dis­abled park­ing bays. Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

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