AFTER half a year of determined campaigning for a fairer hospital parking fee system, Sydney year 9 student Gidon Goodman’s beaming smile on Monday said it all.
The 14-year-old Moriah College student’s considerable efforts – which included creating a Change.org petition signed by more than 70,000 people and holding meetings with two health ministers – were justly rewarded in fitting fashion.
Goodman was invited to participate in a press conference alongside NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard at Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick, where he has had fortnightly treatments for Gaucher’s Disease since he was five.
After witnessing an announcement by the Premier of a commitment to slash hospital parking fees by up to $200 per week for patients who require regular hospital treatments, and their visitors, Goodman joined her in hoisting a victory banner.
Goodman told The AJN the NSW government’s decision is a huge win for people power.
“It really shows that democracy works, and people can achieve change,” he said.
“I’m really blown away with what they [the Premier and Health Minister] have done.
“They’ve extended a very generous existing concession to visitors of all patients who require going to hospital for treatment for at least one day per month.
“It was surprising how quickly this issue got solved, because seven months might seem like a long time, but in terms of the political system, I think it was actually very quick to get to a real outcome.”
Berejiklian praised Goodman’s advocacy for the policy shift and for pressing the government, which initially resulted in a commitment by the former health minister Jillian Skinner to order a review of the hospital parking fee system.
“Today is about people making a difference … a teenager like Gidon making a difference,” Berejiklian said.
She added the measure will cost $11 million per year, and the government will find a way to fund it from the budget.
Goodman said trips by his family members to visit him in hospital had cost them more than $10,000 in parking fees in the last decade.
“This decision will help thousands of families save thousands of dollars. As for my situation, these reforms will save my family $800 per year. It will make a huge difference.”
Goodman renewed his call for change to hospital parking fees 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.
“Thank you for all your support.”
The hospital parking fee changes come into effect in NSW from July 1.