Aussie woman 'enraged' by man's shocking act in disabled parking spot at shopping centre

Elisha Matthews said the man used shopping trolleys to block a disabled parking spot – forcing permit holders to drive away.

Man stands in front of his car with the bonnet up after blocking a disabled parking spot with trolleys.
Disability advocate Elisha Williams said she was 'enraged' by what she saw at a Brisbane car park. Source: Supplied

A disability advocate was “enraged” after a man, whose car had broken down, prevented multiple drivers with valid permits from accessing a disabled parking spot by filling it with trolleys while he waited for roadside assistance.

Elisha Matthews, who uses a portable powered wheelchair, said she watched as the man put up a “barricade” of trolleys in the mobility bay, while physically stepping in to stop three vehicles with valid disabled permits from parking in the spot.

The Brisbane woman told Yahoo News Australia while the "abuse of disability spots" happened “every day”, this was the first time she’d seen someone block off a mobility spot to reserve it for a Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) roadside assistance vehicle.

The Queenslander said her support worker was taking her to a physiotherapy appointment at Racecourse Village in Ascot when she was unable to park in a shaded disability spot as another driver was parked diagonally across the bay trying to jump-start the broken-down vehicle.

Elisha Matthews.
Matthews said 'abuse of disability parking spots' happens every day and there should be tougher enforcement. Source: Facebook

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” she said. “But I'll tell you I spent my entire physio session enraged by what I was watching through the window."

She said she watched the man use trolleys to block access to the spot from every angle. "And let me tell you, trying to get accessible parking at the shopping centre is like winning the lottery.”

Matthews, who founded the No Permits No Park campaign which resulted in legislation change, told Yahoo, that when a mechanic from RACQ arrived, they parked their vehicle in the disabled spot to service the man’s car.

She said Racecourse Village was a small shopping centre with a hairdresser, gym, GP, dentist, pharmacy and a physiotherapist — meaning disabled drivers could have missed important medical appointments by not being allowed to use that spot.

“For (disabled) people who still drive, they need that access,” Williams told Yahoo. “I have a lot of friends who are wheelchair users and have modified mobility vehicles. Without that access, they cannot get out of the car.

“It’s the response from people. They think that just using the space will affect one disabled person but they could be popping in to buy bread and milk, so having that space for one hour could affect three or four people.”

Matthews said able-bodied people illegally taking up a mobility spot even for a few minutes purely for convenience could affect a disabled person’s entire day.

Reporting people parking in disabled parking spots illegally, should be easier, advocates say. Source: Getty
Reporting people parking in disabled parking spots illegally should be easier, advocates say. Source: Getty

"(Able-bodied) people have the attitude that we're all just out shopping or having a good time so it's only a slight inconvenience," she told Yahoo. "Our lives are important too and we do work. We have jobs, families and appointments like everyone else. There needs to be more community education.”

Adding to the problem is the difficulty of enforcing the illegal use of disabled parking bays, as shopping centres are privately owned.

While, a Queensland Police spokesperson said it was only responsible for monitoring infringements in public spaces such as on-street locations, a Brisbane City Council spokesperson told Yahoo: "Council does not have the power to issue fines or manage parking in private shopping centres, it would be a police matter."

According to the Queensland Government: "For private car parks, reports about illegal use of disability parking bays should be made to the property owner." In this case, that would be the shopping centre management.

However, it added, "Owners of private car parks (such as hospitals, shopping centres and clubs) may also agree with local governments to allow parking inspectors to issue parking infringement notices."

An RACQ spokesperson told Yahoo, “RACQ would like to reassure its members that there is no need to block parking spaces to ensure our patrols can access their vehicles when experiencing a breakdown.

“Our skilled patrol teams are fully trained and equipped to navigate various environments and find a suitable location to service the vehicle.”

They said a RACQ patrol could park in a disabled bay as a “short-term solution” while assisting a member if there was no safe alternative, but would aim t67 move to allow someone with a permit to use the space.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.