Monday, July 22, 2024

Assistance dogs to fetch ID cards

A new voluntary accreditation system for assistance animals that will see guide dogs issued with ID cards has been introduced in Canberra.

“The new accreditation system introduces registration for accredited assistance animals to reflect the important role these animals play in helping their handlers go about their life,” Minister for City Services, Chris Steel said.

The ACT’s assistance animal framework was introduced through amendments to the Domestic Animals Act 2000 (the Act) that was available for comment in late 2018 and passed in October 2019.

Following the laws being passed, consultation with industry experts was conducted over six months through a working group to develop standards.

“The framework is similar to those in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia and includes a standardised public access test for the animal and handler which was developed in close consultation with industry representatives,” said Mr Steel.

“We’ve seen the positive impacts of this new accreditation system in other jurisdictions, which is why we have implemented this revised system to ensure that Canberrans living with intellectual, psychosocial or physical disabilities can access animal assistance supports more easily.

“Following the animal passing the test, the handler can register their assistance animal to be issued with an ID card that can be used to demonstrate to businesses, public transport operators and the broader community that the animal is safe accessing public spaces.”

Minister Steel said denying access to public places to people accompanied by accredited assistance animals is an offence under the Act.

“We will be working with businesses to ensure they are compliant with the legislation,” he said.

“Denying assistance animals access, accredited or not, can also lead to a complaint and/or prosecution.”

Mr Steel said the ACT accreditation system was not mandatory.

“The scheme is designed to clarify existing access rights protected by Commonwealth law and give certainty to both businesses and persons with disability who rely on an assistance animal.”

He said handlers can also apply for an ACT Government assistance animal ID card if the animal has already been accredited in another Australian jurisdiction (currently only QLD, WA and SA), or if the animal has a current accreditation with a recognised organisation.

Applications for assistance animal trainers and assessors to be registered are open and successful applicants will be listed online. Once listed, people can contact these individuals for training or, if they are confident their assistance animal is ready, to attempt the public access test.

For more information including the public access standards and a full list of recognised assistance animal organisations, visit www.cityservices.act.gov.au

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