Monday, 27 October 2008

National Disability Strategy

Have your say about the National Disability Strategy Submissions must be received by Monday 1 December 2008.Dogs, and pets in general, are extremely useful in dealing with the majority of disabilities. Remember that one in five Australians has a disability, and that 88% of these are invisible!

We have an appalling legal situation in regards to Assistance Animals. Although we have excellent Federal legislation, and court cases to support self-trained assistance animals, we have State Laws that DO NOT acknowledge these animals. For example, in NSW a dog trained to assist a person with an invisible disability (such as diabetes, epilepsy, phobia etc) simply CAN NOT be registered as an assistance animal. Help us help dogs help people. You can make your own submission, or send your views to Barking Mad and I will include them in our submission.


Sam said...

Federal Law overrides State Law that gives less access to people using Assistance Animals.

I agree that State Law is very lacking and should be updated, however I don't see the big deal when as users of Assistance Animals, we are covered under the Federal Law.

Can you explain why you are campaigning for State Law to be changed, when we are already covered under Federal Law anyway?


Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Dear Sam, I have so many examples I'm not sure what to pick.

#1. The Dept. of Local Gov't in NSW is advising councils in writing all NSW councils (in which we have members in 60, and assistance animals in at least 4) that these dogs must be trained by one of their four listed organisations (but only three exist). Self-trained is permitted under Federal law, as are organisations that train dogs for invisible disabilities, and have international standing. But, in NSW and SA and probably other states, you can’t register your dog as an assistance animal.

The problem multiplies as Council rangers are being instructed on state law, not federal law. As is often said to me when I try to raise training issues with the relevant regulators, it doesn’t take a high UAI to be a ranger or a cop!

#2. Railcorp allows two types of assistance animal on trains, as per federal law. However, for the majority of assistance animals they require an annual pass which involves a hell of a lot of personal details including medical information. So if I’m on a train and travelling from Brisbane to Sydney, I’m suppose to get off at the state border, fill out 16 page of an ‘application’ and WAIT for RailCorp to respond. Non-sensical, but true.

Railcorp also professes to allow dogs that provide therapeutic benefit to the handler or another person - don't they all?

There is some good news. As more doggie discrimination complaints hit the Human Rights Commission, things change. Jones Lang Lasalle as managers of 65 shopping centres recently updated their signage to read “authorised animals allowed’ instead of “no dogs”.

I can go on – NSW statute allows companion dogs in shopping centres with the permission of the management OR if they are being taken a vet or going to a pet shop, vet or similar establishment. Woolies and Coles sell dog supplies but that’s another issue….

Sam said...

Perhaps I'm luckier living in Qld than I realise!

I've never had any (easily unresolvable) access problems, and I've travelled many times on the train.

Yes, getting the annual card to travel on trains is a pain, but you can ask the doctor to word the letter in a way that doesn't give too many details. I don't agree with the HREOC decision to give an Excemption to Australian Rail to allow them to require those documents, but hey, it still didn't stop me from travelling.

I've never had a major issue in a shopping centre, or with registering my assistance dog with council.

My assistance dog is for an invisible disability and is self trained.

So are you saying that assistance dogs that are self trained cannot be registered as assistance dogs in NSW? And even assistance dogs that are with organisations (but not the 3 or 4 specified on the council's list)?

Out of interest, which are the 3 or 4 organisations? Are they similar to the organisations listed as being accepted by CASA for flying? (ie organisations that are full members of ADI)?

Sam said...

Interesting. I did a bit of research and found this

At the bottom it says:
Recognised Assistance Animal (Card from Assistance Dogs International, Guide Dogs for the Blind or South Australian Hearing Dogs required)

You're right, that doesn't seem to match up with our Federal Law at all.

As far as I know, ADI don't even give ID cards to individual Assistance Dog owners in Australia who are with organisations that are members of ADI.

And then there are those with Assistance Dogs from organisations that are not members, and self trained Assistance Dogs.

I wonder why NSW hasn't adapted their policies to be in line with Assistance Dog laws? I had no problems in Queensland.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

I give up! Sam, I KNOW I am right - that's why I run this organisation without pay, with too few people willing to put their $40 where there bark is (but pay $90 for a bag of premium dog chow).

Thank you for your confirmation: "You're right, that doesn't seem to match up with our Federal Law at all."

I would LOVE to be wrong; it would mean that dogs and their contribution to our communities (be it disability or other service) would be recognised. Are you a member? Will you put your voice to the federal strategy? Can you put us in contact with the appropriate departments in QLD that you worked with? Barking Mad IS our members.