Please Don't Pat Me

Australia

Federal Law

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 is Australia's Federal law that pertains to assistance dogs. The full legislation can be found on the Comlaw website. The sections that pertain to assistance dogs directly are section 9, and section 54A.

Section 9

Section 9 provides the definition of an assistance dog in part 2.

  1. For the purposes of this Act, an assistance animal is a dog or other animal:
    1. 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
    2. accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; or
    3. trained:
      1. to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; and
      2. to meet the standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place

Essentially this definition means that the dog must assist directly with a disability. So even if the dog is an assistance dog the person who is handling the dog must be disabled and the dog must directly help with that disability. For example it would not be legal for someone who is Deaf to take a Guide Dog out in public places as even though the Guide Dog is trained to meet the standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place, a Guide Dog does not alleviate the effect of a hearing impairment.

More information about the standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place can be found on the Handler Information page.

Section 54a

Section 54A provides for the exemptions for discrimination in relation to assistance dogs.

  1. This section applies in relation to a person with a disability who has an assistance animal.
  2. This Part does not render it unlawful for a person to request or to require that the assistance animal remain under the control of:
    1. the person with the disability; or
    2. another person on behalf of the person with the disability.
  3. For the purposes of subsection (2), an assistance animal may be under the control of a person even if it is not under the person’s direct physical control.
  4. This Part does not render it unlawful for a person (the discriminator) to discriminate against the person with the disability on the ground of the disability, if:
    1. the discriminator reasonably suspects that the assistance animal has an infectious disease; and
    2. the discrimination is reasonably necessary to protect public health or the health of other animals.
  5. This Part does not render it unlawful for a person to request the person with the disability to produce evidence that:
    1. the animal is an assistance animal; or
    2. the animal is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
  6. This Part does not render it unlawful for a person (the discriminator) to discriminate against the person with the disability on the ground that the person with the disability has the assistance animal, if:
    1. the discriminator requests or requires the person with the disability to produce evidence referred to in subsection (5); and
    2. the person with the disability neither:
      1. produces evidence that the animal is an assistance animal; nor
      2. produces evidence that the animal is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
  7. This Part does not affect the liability of a person for damage to property caused by an assistance animal.

Section 54A sets out the circumstances in which it is legal to discriminate against an assistance dog team. Part 2 says that an assistance dog must be under control. This means on leash or under effective voice control.

Part 4 says that the assistance dog must be healthy and also allows for assistance dog teams to be prohibited in places that are sterile such as an operating theatre or a quarantine area such as a zoo where there is a possibility of the assistance dog passing on or contracting any illness or disease from other animals.

The final provision in section 54A says that it is legal to ask for evidence that an assistance dog is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place. For more information about what constitutes evidence please see the How can I tell if an assistance dog team is legitimate? page.