The government is set to open negotiations with the owners of public hospital car parks after a 14-year-old boy posted a petition online to reduce hospital parking fees.
The petition was posted by Gidon Goodman, a 14-year-old boy from NSW, who has been in and out of Sydney Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with Gaucher’s disease, a rare blood disorder, when he was only nine months old.
Gidon said that his family has spent more than $10,000 in hospital parking fees alone, and so he decided to make an online petition eight months ago, which has finally caught the government’s attention after gathering over 70,000 signatures.
Earlier today, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the government would talk with about 30 car park operators in a move that will cost the state $11 million in consolidated revenue.
Ms Berejiklian congratulated Gidon saying the petition showed that sometimes governments needed “a nudge” to act.
“We were aware of everything families were struggling through. But when you hear it from the mouth of a child going through it and really wanting to support his family who are supporting him, it does bring that back to home,” she said.
The changes should be effective from July, and will see carers paying only 10 per cent of current fees, which can help long-term patients save up to $200 a week.
Carers who visit a hospital more than twice a week will be able to apply for a concession card unlocking cheaper parking.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he had “no doubt” car park operators would cooperate.
Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said car parking problems constituted the third largest source of complaints he received.
Gidon said he never imagined the petition would attract so much attention and was “unbelievably proud” of the result. “It’s going to help a massive amount of people, going into the hundreds of thousands. I think it really shows democracy in action. It shows the government can listen to people when they speak out,” he said.
In an update of the petition, Gidon thanked the thousands who supported the cause. “I am happy to say that we have seen a resolution to this issue in NSW, this issue is still however prevalent in all other states in Australia. I would like to again renew my call for change in all of Australia. Unfortunately I can no longer drive this issue from NSW but I fully support efforts in all other states to solve this issue. Once again thank you for all your support and for causing this great change we have seen today,” he wrote.