Features/Visual Art

Yes, this bay really does make someone’s day

2 December 2020

Artists are breathing life into parking signage as part of a campaign drawing attention to the misuse of ACROD bays, Ara Jansen reports.

Ever pulled into an ACROD bay just because you needed to pop into the chemist or grab a coffee? You really were going to only be five minutes, until you decided to grab something from the supermarket.

A campaign called This Bay is Someone’s Day launches this week to remind everyone that unless you have an ACROD permit, you can’t use those bays. No matter how much you need a caffeine hit. Created by National Disability Services (NDS), local artists are creating works on ACROD bays and transforming them into eye-catching art installations. NDS has delivered the ACROD Parking Program for more than 40 years and more than 90,000 West Australians with severe mobility restrictions have a permit.

Visual artist and designer Stephie Crosby works on an ACROD bay in Cockburn. Photo supplied.

Campaign lead Jos Franciscus says the idea stemmed from wanting to create a unique campaign which alerts people not to misuse ACROD bays while highlighting how important they are for permit holders.

“We wanted to put a positive spin on it and use art to bring to life the stories of ACROD permit holders and the importance of them using the bays,” she says. “Someone choosing to misuse an ACROD bay means someone who needs it cannot go about their day. For instance, not being able to get out of their vehicle or not having the capacity to walk a distance might preclude them from doing everyday things people take for granted like shopping, working and socialising.”

Participating visual artist and designer Stephie Crosby says the work is “not just symbols painted on a car bay, they represent real people with real stories; amazing people who overcome significant hurdles every day and accessible parking is the last thing they should have to worry about.” 

Franciscus, who is a permit holder and wheelchair user, says they also wanted to highlight the diversity of ACROD permit holders who vary in age, background and disability.  

“We wanted to show how challenging it can be in someone’s life if someone else decides to use an ACROD bay simply for their convenience,” she says. “I don’t think people are being malicious, they’re just thinking of their own needs. It’s not OK to use a bay unless you have a permit. We want people to think outside their box and of the real lives they affect by making that choice.”

She says for some people with disability, getting out of the house is a major undertaking and then not being able to pull into a bay because someone else has misused it, can significantly impact their entire day, hence the name of the campaign, This Bay is Someone’s Day.

The artists bringing stories of ACROD permit holders to life are Bruno Booth, Monica McGhie, Alex Gillam and Aunty Milli Penny who are all permit holders plus non permit holders Kelly Canby (whose mother was a permit holder), Robert Jenkins, Stephie Crosby, Shu Prasad, Shlives and Sofia Varano. Each artist was paired with a permit holder to elicit their story and create a visual representation of what the bays mean to them. The results are as varied as the artists themselves. New pieces will be unveiled over the next three months across Perth and in a couple of regional centres.  

“It might be obvious, but people with disability do the same things as other people. By someone choosing to misuse a bay, it means I can’t go about my day and it can be severely limiting,” says Franciscus.

“ACROD bays get me close to where I want to be. They’re like a giant, blue helping hand,” says artist Bruno Booth, who has used a wheelchair for most of his life.

He teamed up with para-athlete and permit holder Robyn Lambird who says the bays are important to her because they offer a little more freedom and independence in terms of getting in and out of a car and how far she can go.

“Having bays close to where you want to go, make things more comfortable,” says Lambird, who has cerebral palsy. She can walk but also uses a wheelchair. “Bruno and I talked about who I am and what I get up to and he’s creating something from my story. I’m excited to see what he comes up with.”   

Para-athlete Robyn Lambird and artist Bruno Booth discuss the artwork for an ACROD parking bay. Photo supplied

Shlives aka Shannon Lively, who is an artist and illustrator known for his wacky characters, believes the initiative “helps breathe humanity into these spaces and symbols allowing them to represent more than just accessibility, but the people whose lives are directly affected.”

The campaign will use social media videos to illuminate the stories of ACROD permit holders and the art made from their stories. Posters and warning cards will be distributed by rangers and parking inspectors reminding drivers who park illegally in ACROD bays that This Bay is Someone’s Day.

The NDS campaign runs for the next three months in partnership with 25 local governments, seven shopping centres, RAC and with funding from the Department of Communities.

“I am really excited to be part of this creative project as it will be a personally rewarding artistic experience driven by an objective I strongly believe needs to be addressed in our community,” says commercial illustrator and artist Sofia Varano. “I think the campaign will be a powerful and effective way of bringing public awareness to the misuse of ACROD bays and I am thrilled to be a part of the mission.”

Earlier this year, the McGowan Government increased on-the-spot fines for illegally parking in an ACROD bay from $300 to $500. Court imposed penalties have increased from $2000 to $5000.

To coincide with International Day of People with Disability, the ACROD campaign is officially launched on December 3. Check out the art, stories and videos on social media using #thisbayissomeonesday.

Pictured top: Adaptive Fitness Trainer Nang celebrates an ACROD Bay in Mandurah ACROD painted by Sofia Varano. Photo supplied.

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Author —
Ara Jansen

Ara Jansen is a freelance journalist. Words, bright colour, books, music, art, fountain pens, good conversation, interesting people and languages make her deeply happy. A longtime music journalist and critic, she’s the former music editor of The West Australian. Being in the pool next to the playground is one of her favourite places, ever.

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