Aussie blocks three cars in parking row

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A motorist has blasted car park staff for failing to do their job after he was outraged to find cars illegally parking in disabled parking spots and took matters into his own hands.

Paniora Nukunuku, a student who has a prosthetic leg, said he was “furious” when he drove to the University of Technology Sydney and found three cars allegedly parked illegally in the disabled parking area last month.

He claims there were no NSW disability permit stickers or UTS disability stickers displayed on any of the vehicles.

“I was just furious and disappointed that people would do this to students … It’s messed up,” he told news.com.au.

“That service is supposed to be for disability students on campus.”

Frustrated, the digital and social media student parked his care elsewhere and reported the issue to InterPark, the company which manages the carpark.

But when he asked what was being done to stop people from parking illegally in disabled spots, a staff member reportedly “shrugged his shoulders”.

“(Their response was) ‘Sorry we can’t do anything, we put cones there, we put up signs. But if people want to park there, they’ll park there.”

He said the staff member offered to find him a closer parking spot on occasions when the disabled sports were filled, but Mr Nukunuku said that didn’t solve the problem.

“I felt angry and I felt annoyed because we don’t have these parks for fun,” he said.

“We do it because we have to, we do it for accessibility. It’s not because we want to be better than everyone else.”

So he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Before his next class, he moved his car and parked across the three vehicles, blocking them in.

“(The staff member) didn’t do anything about it. So I did something about it,” he explained.

Some 45 minutes later, he returned to his car after he was informed UTS security were looking for him to move his vehicle so one of the drivers could leave.

Mr Nukunuku, said the driver had parked between the two disabled spots in the area designated for people with disabilities to get in and out of their car.

But when the uni student returned to the car park the same InterPark staff member approached him and questioned if he owned the car which blocked them in.

“I said ‘yeah this is my car’. And then he had the audacity to question why I parked illegally in front of three illegally parked cars,” Mr Nukunuku said.

“I really shouldn’t have to do (that). But if this means that they won’t ever park there again, then it’s most definitely worth it.”

Uni student’s fury over ‘unjust’ car park act

He said the staff member also threatened to call the police.

“He threatened me saying that he will call the police on me, he will get my car towed (and) he’ll give me a fine as a response to me telling him that these cars are parked illegally.”

“You don’t do that to people. You don’t threaten them with the police because you fail to do your job,” said Mr Nukunuku.

Fed up, the uni student decided to film the interaction, which he later shared on social media to call out just how “unjust this whole situation is”.

“Here’s the worker who is trying to blame me because they parked illegally here and he wants to call the cops on me,” he said in the video, pointing to the staff member.

“I didn’t know it was you,” the staff member responded.

Mr Nukunuku said the staff member tried to justify the situation by claiming the driver had parked in the disabled parking area to pick up her child.

“I’m worried about the lady who’s got to pick up her baby,” the staff member said in the video.

“That’s not my problem … disabled people need to get in and out of their car,” Mr Nukunuku replied.

“I can’t believe this, I can’t believe you let people park there.”

The uni student then turned to the female driver to show her his disabled parking sticker.

With tensions rising, he reiterated: “You’re not supposed to park there”.

The uni student later returned in his car and drove out of the car park.

He said the woman has since contacted him and apologised.

“I think she’s really sorry because she got caught as opposed to really sorry that she did that. I think she would just do it again, if I didn’t put my car there.”

Mr Nukunuku said access to disabled parking spots is “crucial” for students.

“If we provide an equal and proportionate amount of access to students, then everyone can study on a level playing field. If people have trouble getting to classes, but we provide them ramps, and we provide them with automatic doors that open up, then their time and their experience as a student is far better.”

“Having accessibility helps everyone.”

Mr Nukunuku said he plans on submitting a complaint to InterPark as well as the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW to raise the matter further.

As well as being financially compensated over the incident, he said he would like to see more training for staff members and increased penalties for people who park illegally in disabled car spots.

In the meantime, he has a clear message for those who do – “It’s not designed for you”.

“You being in there means someone misses out – someone who isn’t like an able-bodied person but someone who’s disabled. And it sucks.”

A UTS spokesperson told news.com.au they have raised the issue with InterPark as a “matter of urgency”.

“As an initial response, InterPark has agreed to work with us to improve signage and communication throughout the carpark,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Additionally, we have requested InterPark increase patrols to assist in identifying users who are not complying with the conditions of entry into the carpark. We will monitor this situation and seek regular feedback and obtain reports from InterPark to ensure these improvements are successfully implemented.”

InterPark has declined to comment.

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