Australian Assistance Dog Laws

This page will be updated and edited as I find more information. The rules and regulations regarding service dogs in Australia, and state specific, is very hard to find (based on my experiences) as they are a relatively new disability aid in Australia.

ANTI DISCRIMINATION ACT (2009)

Part 1 Preliminary

Section 9

10 Disability Discrimination Act 1992

9 Disability discrimination—guide dogs, hearing assistance dogs and trained animals

(1) For the purposes of this Act, a person (discriminator) discriminates against a person with:

(a) a visual disability; or

(b) a hearing disability; or

(c) any other disability;

(aggrieved person) if the discriminator treats the aggrieved person less favourably because of the fact that the aggrieved person possesses, or is accompanied by:

(d) a guide dog; or

(e) a dog trained to assist the aggrieved person in activities where hearing is required, or because of any matter related to that fact; or

(f) any other animal trained to assist the aggrieved person to alleviate the effect of the disability, or because of any matter related to that fact;

whether or not it is the discriminator’s practice to treat less favourably any person who possesses, or is accompanied by, a dog or any other animal.

(2) Subsection (1) does not affect the liability of a person with a disability for damage to property caused by a dog or other animal trained to assist the person to alleviate the effect of the disability or because of any matter related to that fact.

TRAINING THE DOG:

Service Dogs (SD) are trained through a registered organisation. Some organisations breed, train and distribute their own dogs but there are many that allow handlers to train their own dogs (whether the animal was brought especially for this task or the dog was a long-time companion). The organisations have (often strict) training schedules, and many require both the handler and dog to attend classes, or at least work with an approved trainer weekly. However, there are organisations that give the service dog team more freedom, so they are able to work at their own pace.

A Service Dog in training (SDiT) is given public access rights, the same as a qualified SD. Some airlines, however, may refuse an SDiT access to flights.

The training period depends on the schedule set out by the organisation.

PUBLIC ACCESS TEST:

An SDiT is required to pass a public access test after they have completed their training period. The organisation that the SD team is part of will administer the test.

The test is standardised by Service Dogs International.

VESTS, ID AND CERTIFICATION:

SD’s and SDiT’s are required to wear a vest while out in public. The organisation will more often than not provide the appropriate vest for the dog, and many will supply both the dog and handler with an ID card.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

While you are not allowed to charge a service dog handler an extra fee for their dog nor refuse them access to the service a pass is required for the dog if you plan to travel on trains or buses. Procuring one of these passes can often be done through the organisation.

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