Public Access Rights of an Assistance Dog

Thank you for opening your doors to Assistance Dogs!

We at Assistance Dogs Australia feel it’s important to know about the great work Assistance Dogs do in our communities, and the laws that make this work possible. This document will help to answer questions about Assistance Dogs, what they do, and their public access rights. We hope this will help you welcome Assistance Dogs in.

What is an Assistance Dog?

An Assistance Dog is an accredited dog specially trained to assist a person with a disability and has met the state standards for public access rights.

How do Assistance Dogs help?

Assistance Dogs can help with a range of conditions. They help people with physical disabilities and limitations complete day to day tasks around their homes and in the community. They help people with psychological conditions, like PTSD and Autism Spectrum Disorders, feel safe, calm and confident when out in public spaces. They provide highly specialised skills to address specific needs a person might have.

What are the rights of a person with an Assistance Dog?

The rights of a person with an Assistance Dog are protected under Federal Law through the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA 1992). The DDA recognises that a suitably trained Assistance Animal is a tool facilitating the functioning of a person with a disability. The DDA recognises both physical and psychosocial disabilities and acknowledges that an Assistance Animal can assist in either case. The DDA allows qualified Assistance Dogs to accompany their handler into all public spaces. The only exceptions to this may be spaces in which a person’s disability is being addressed by other means, or areas with stringent sterility requirements, for example:
• Specific Clinical Settings
• Surgically sterilised areas
• Industrial food preparation areas (kitchens)
• Quarantined areas

Assistance Dogs are a necessary aid to allow a person with a disability to engage in their community. You wouldn’t ask someone who requires a walking stick to leave it at the door.

What are your rights and what can you expect as a proprietor?

You are legally allowed to ask for some documentation showing that the Assistance Dog is qualified, accredited, and serving the person they are with. We encourage you to do this, but ask that you do so with sensitivity and respect. An Assistance Animal will have a jacket with branding from the organisation that qualified them. You can expect the dog to be clean, well maintained, very well behaved, and highly obedient to their handler.

How should you interact with the Assistance Dog?

When you come across an Assistance Dog in their jacket out in public they are working to support the needs of their handler, so the best approach is often to ignore their Assistance Dog or seek permission to interact.

You can contact Assistance Dogs Australia at info@assistancedogs.org.au or 1800 688 364.

If you have any further questions regarding the rights of Assistance Dogs, or the laws specific to your state, below are the contact details for the relevant human rights organisations.

Australian Human Rights Commission
www.humanrights.gov.au/about/contact-us – (02) 9284 9600
Attorney General’s Department
www.ag.gov.au/About/Pages/Contactus.aspx – (02) 6141 6666
NEW SOUTH WALES – New South Wales Public Service Commission
www.psc.nsw.gov.au/contact-us – (02) 9272 6000
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY – Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Commission
www.hrc.act.gov.au/contact-us – (02) 6205 2222
QUEENSLAND – Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland
https://www.qhrc.qld.gov.au/contactus – 1300 130 670 (state wide)
NORTHERN TERRITORY – Northern Territory Anti Discrimination Commission
https://adc.nt.gov.au/contacts.html – 1800 813 846
TASMANIA – Equal Opportunity Tasmania
www.equalopportunity.tas.gov.au/contact_us – 1300 305 062
VICTORIA – Victorian Equal Opportunities & Human Rights Commission
www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/home/about-us/contact-us – 1300 292 153
SOUTH AUSTRALIA – South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission
www.eoc.sa.gov.au/contact – (08) 8207 1977
WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Western Australia Equal Opportunities Commission
http://www.eoc.wa.gov.au/contact-us – (08) 9216 3900

State Specific Legislation

QUEENSLAND
www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2009-004
SOUTH AUSTRALIA
www.dogandcatboard.com.au
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/local-government/community/cats-and-dogs/applying-for-assistance-dog-approval

Download the Public Access Rights of Assistance Dogs PDF here.

It costs over $40,000 to train and place an Assistance Dog.

Your donation helps covers training, vaccinations, food and equipment for an Assistance Dog, who is given to a client free of charge.

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