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Woolworths accused of 'extremely dangerous' car park move at new store

A young woman visited a newly opened Woolworths to find 14 pram parking spots all lined up near the entrance, but only one disabled parking space.

A woman has questioned Woolworths' commitment to customers with a disability after she was shocked by the layout of the car park at a new store in South Australia.

Leonie Tagan, a young woman who uses a wheelchair, visited the newly opened Mount Barker Woolworths to find there were 14 parents with prams parking spots all lined up in a row near the entrance, but only one disabled parking spot outside the store.

"Woolworths, you have dropped the ball, it's very discriminatory," she said in an online video last week.

Two images. Image on the left shows the outside of the Woolworths store with pram car parks lined up outside. Image on the left is a close up of Ms Tagan's face.
Leonie Tagan explains that for her, parking across streets away from the entrance can be extremely dangerous. Source: Supplied

Opposite the pram parking spots there were a few more spaces for people with disabilities, but they would have to cross traffic to get to the store.

"It's extremely dangerous," Ms Tagan said in her TikTok video.

"If the one [park at the entrance] was occupied, I would have to roll across traffic, and it's really hard to see over cars, or for cars to see me".

Calls for Woolies to consult with disability community

Nationally agreed standards and the National Construction Code both dictate that organisations must follow certain regulations when it comes to providing adequate accessible parking. CEO of the Physical Disability Council of NSW, Edward Morris, says it is critical to provide those living with disabilities access to community facilities.

"Inclusive communities are important to avoid compounding the challenge of isolation that so many living with disabilities face" he told Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday.

Ms Tagan made a follow-up video shared to TikTok on Monday saying she has concerns about the disabled community being "generally overlooked". People reacted to her video sharing similar examples.

"It's the same with the new one at Clarkson [Western Australia]. l'm always so worried I'll fall whilst crossing the road — it's so frustrating," someone commented. Another said "Top Ryde [Sydney] shopping centre moved disabled car spots further away for Woolworths online pick up spots".

In a bid to prevent this happening in the future, Mr Morris has urged Woolworths "to display their commitment to inclusion by sharing their design process for the Mount Barker location". He said if this consultation did not occur, "we call for Woolworths to commit to consulting with the disability community in the design of future locations".

Woolworths working to make car park changes

After receiving the feedback about the car parking spaces at the Mt Barker store, a Woolworths spokesperson has told Yahoo News the store is working with the landlord to add an extra two disability car parking spaces adjacent to the front entrance.

"This change will be completed over the coming weeks" they said.

Pram car parks aren't accessible for all

Hundreds of people have responded to Ms Tagan's original TikTok video, with many wondering if she could use the pram car parks instead. She had said they are not wide enough to get her wheelchair safely out.

According to nationally agreed standards, parking spaces are to be not less than 2400mm wide x 5400mm long, with a dedicated space next to the park for vehicle mounted equipment for loading and unloading wheelchairs.

In NSW, those with disability can look up available accessible parking in their community through the Park'nPay App. Mr Morris hopes Governments in all jurisdictions will support the millions living with disability across the nation to participate in their communities more easily through similar initiatives.

Do you have more information on parking problems for people with disabilities? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at laura.koefoed@yahooinc.com

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

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