Fee fight taken to the top

Sydney’s Gidon Goodman, 13, presents his petition for hospital parking fee regulation to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner with Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton at NSW Parliament House on October 11.

IT was one small meeting, but one giant step in 13-year-old Gidon Goodman’s campaign to reduce exorbitant hospital parking fees affecting thousands of Australians who, like him, require regular and ongoing hospital visits.

Armed with his Change.org petition signed by almost 70,000 people, the Year 8 Moriah College student, who has Gaucher’s Disease, secured a meeting with NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton at NSW Parliament House last Tuesday.

He emerged with renewed optimism, telling The AJN, “I would probably rate the meeting around eight out of ten because I definitely got a lot of the things I wanted from it, and I’ve got another meeting set up for December, so I can see a direct line of progress.

“I’m hopeful something could be changed as early as early next year.”

Describing Gidon as “a most impressive young man”, Skinner said, “After a very productive meeting, I undertook to review aspects of the state’s hospital car parking policy.”

The review will look into ensuring greater consistency in parking concessions as well as extending concessions to people with chronic illnesses who need to visit hospital at least once every fortnight.

Since the age of five, Gidon has had to visit Sydney Children’s Hospital every two weeks, costing his parents $10,000 in hospital parking fees.

His petition, also sent to federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Opposition Leader Luke Foley, calls for urgent regulation, because the issue “affects the most vulnerable people in society.”

Helped by recent appearances on Network Ten’s The Project and on 2GB, Gidon pledged to keep his campaign on track.

“I think it’s struck such a chord because it is something that everyone cares about and can really relate to,” he said, adding “our fight’s not over.”

To access the petition, go to www.change.org and search for 
Gidon Goodman.

SHANE DESIATNIK