DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT: HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Under the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 amended 2009 (hereafter DDA) all assistance dogs are guaranteed access to all public places in Australia.

Human Rights CommissionAccording to the DDA, if your assistance dog is appropriately trained and certified to assist you, and meets acceptable standards of hygiene and behaviour, than access to public spaces and services is guaranteed. There are circumstances under which access may be refused and these are detailed under Section 54A of the Act. If your dog has an infectious disease or threatens public health or the health of other animals you may legally be refused access. You are also obliged to produce evidence that your dog is a legitimate assistance animal when asked.

Following successful completion of the Public Access Test, mindDog will give your dog an identity card. This will carry his picture and provide evidence that he is certified; however, this does not mean you will have a trouble-free experience.

Places used by the public include:

  • Public footpaths and walkways
  • Banks, credit unions, building societies
  • Hotels, motels, rental accommodation
  • Social and sporting clubs
  • Educational institutions
  • Parks, public swimming pools, public toilets and pedestrian malls
  • Theaters and other places of entertainment
  • Libraries
  • Shops and departments stores
  • Cafes, restaurants and pubs
  • Lawyers’ offices and legal services
  • Sporting venues

Your access rights to housing and accommodation are protected under the DDA whether it is public or private. Hotels and motels usually appreciate being told in advance that you will have your mindDog with you.

Landlords often do not know that your rights are covered under the DDA and it may be necessary to educate them. In a rental situation it is not necessary to tell them about your mindDog when submitting an application as they may view your mindDog as a pet and refuse you accommodation. Your mindDog is considered to be a medical aid; if they wouldn’t refuse access to housing and accommodation to someone in a wheelchair, the same premise applies to a mindDog.

The DDA takes precedence over most other laws including state laws and local council regulations. The sole exception is The Civil Aviation Act 1988 (CAA), which contains a clause allowing an airline to refuse to carry an assistance animal or assistance dog if the airline has genuine concern that the size of the dog will be a danger on the flight.

The DDA spells out your rights and responsibilities as a mindDog handler.

Carer, assistant, assistance animal and disability aid definitions:

For the purposes of this Act, a carer or assistant, in relation to a person with a disability, is one of the following who provides assistance or services to the person because of the disability:

  • a carer
  • an assistant
  • an interpreter
  • a reader

For the purposes of this Act, an assistance animal is a dog or other animal:

  • accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a persons with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; or
  • accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; or
  • trained:
    • to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; and
    • to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.

Note: For exemptions from Part 2 for discrimination in relation to assistance animals, see section 54A.

For the purposes of this Act, a carer or assistant, in relation to a person with a disability, is one of the following who provides assistance or services to the person because of the disability:

  • is used by the person; and
  • provides assistance to alleviate the effect of the disability.

Having a carer, assistant, assistance animal or disability aid, the following table has effect:

For the purposes of this act, a person with a disability has… if the person…
a carer or assistant is presently accompanies by the carer or assistant; or

was previously accompanied by the carer or assistant; or

may be accompanied by the carer or assistant in the future; or

is imputed to be accompanied by the carer or assistant.

an assistance animal or disability aid is presently accompanies by the carer or assistant; or

was previously accompanied by the carer or assistant; or

may be accompanied by the carer or assistant in the future; or

is imputed to be accompanied by the carer or assistant.

Human Rights Commission

If you do have a problem and you and your dog are refused access to an area or service, the Human Rights Commission has a very straightforward method for making a complaint. You can do this on their web site and the whole process can be done by email if that suits you. Alternatively, you can contact us and we can advise you or assist you to make a complaint.

Two of the best ways to avoid trouble is to make sure that your dog is always wearing his mindDog vest when you go out together. If you are going somewhere that you haven’t been before, it may help to call ahead and let them know you are coming. This can make all the difference in the world. Most people don’t like surprises and if you are met with a bad reaction to your dog, it can be embarrassing and humiliating. Always remember that you and your dog do have rights.

Below is a list of state legislations. Please note that the DDA trumps State law.

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT

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