Sunday, 30 November 2008

Doctor's Orders - Dog is Good

Remember when our national broadcaster the ABC generously offered two VIP tickets to Barking Mad members with assistance dogs to the outdoor opera back in March this year? And then they were denied entry - something to do with multiple agencies being the ABC, Opera Australia and the Opera House Trust. The first two accommodated their guests, and the later did not, and refused to contact the first two to get this sorted. The result: DRAMA !

And now a complaint of disability discrimination after an offer to show the video claiming ''only guide dogs''' was refused by the Opera House CEO. Now that a formal complaint has been lodged, what did Sydney Opera House do with this complaint? They submitted 160 pages saying they did the right thing; the big bank strategy. And finally, they asked to see the video which we have put on YouTube. In their 160 pages, they claim to be experts about assistance dogs and people with disability. This is timely with the International Day of People with Disability this week, the 3rd of December. So we thought we would offer Richard Evans, CEO of Sydney Opera House, a man with a bigger budget than ..... a quiz on disabilities and assistance animals. This is one of the questions:
The 16 photos above are of dogs and the dog’s main carer/guardian. All are legitimate photos taken recently. 9 of these photos are of assistance dogs with the person they provide assistance to (a person with a disability). All of the assistance dogs in these photos are ‘working’ (on-duty, not resting) at the time the image was taken.

Please circle or put a cross in the 9 images where Sydney Opera House would allow dogs on site because they are assistance animals as defined by the DDA.

We will let you know how we go!


shel said...

So lovely :)

Mon said...

Are you lobbing for better education regarding Assistance dogs and the rights of a disabled person with an assistance dog to public access or are you lobbing for public access for pets?

The two issues are mutually exclusive yet I find you muddy the waters by combining or comparing the two.

Is Pema a pet or an assistance dog?

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Barking Mad represents responsible pet owners' on access to beaches, parks, transport and accommodation. Through our work and the people we've met, we have found it necessary (and welcome by many health and ageing professionals, but not by some other groups)to raise awareness of invisible disabilities and dogs trained to assist people living with medical conditions. (and people like Richard Evans who our tax dollars will now be paying for his trip to Denmark).

There is a whole lot of muddy water in charity-land, animal-welfare, politics and especially the law and how our courts and the system dishes out justice. We are a people who by and large, would rather put our money into pet RESCUE than to deal with the issues of WHY people surrender, especially NSW with a blanket 'no pets'in our tenancy laws unlike our more sensible neighbour Victoria.

Where do you claim we combine or compare the two?

Access to people with assistance animals and access to people with pets are under different legislation, departments etc. However, the general public is tainted by a history of dogs being used publicly for people with one specific disability - and comments to this blog show a desire for that dominance to remain. The fact is there are many, many more dogs that are trained to assist people. I am reminded of an organisation (I believe it is a charity) in W.A., training dogs that assist people with a disability of epidemic proportions. It took three years for the 'main' medical/charity body to acknowledge their work. Fiefdom?

Different laws but confusing issues? So too is rail and road transport. There IS a federal power for rail (beyond freight) but no such thing for bus/road travel.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Thanks to the member who suggested this question for our disability quiz.

The appropriate way for an internationally iconic institution to deal with a person with an assistance animal in NSW is to:
1. Ask them if they are really blind.
2.Tell them that they would have papers to prove they have a disability (otherwise they are not really disabled).
3.Demand to know why they ‘need’ a dog.
4. Ask if they require any special assistance because they are accompanied by an assistance animal.

Mike said...

@Mon: the two issues are NOT mutually exclusive. One is more or less a subset of the other.

In Australia assistance animals tend to have less access to public areas and transport than ordinary pets do in Europe or North America (for example).

@Eedra: I agree that it would help in a number of these stories to clarify whether you're addressing pet or assistance animals (as currently defined by law) in each case.

Re the video on YouTube - it's impossible to tell what's happening, who is speaking and what they're talking about.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Mike, yes the video that is public is confusing; the only point in it is a opera house guy asking a vip guest what their disability is. That's a no-no in discrimination land and should be something like do you need any assistance? There is another video but I posted it as private hopefully wishing for some agreement between the parties.

Bottom line is that only the statements of those involved will explain it all, and the video will support those statements. (In case of the opera house, the video DIRECTLY contradicts THEIR statement).

I guess I posted the videos so that they could be seen by the parties as previously the opera house refused the invitation to view them. They would rather engage legal counsel and sing their praises about access rights in 160 pages then look at what their staff ACTUALLY did and said.

Your point about assistance dogs in Australia having less access rights than pets in Europe is great. Succinct as always!

Terri said...

What do you guys mean when you say assistance animals in Australia have less access rights than pets in North America to places like public areas and transport?

I haven't had any major issues with public access in Australia. The few times I've been questioned it's been sorted out quickly.