There isn’t a national registration or accreditation process for Assistance Dogs in Australia. However the Australian Government together with all
States and Territories are currently (April 2021) considering national principles regarding Assistance Dogs and Assistance Dogs in Training.
Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have accreditation or registration requirements for Assistance Dogs. Information relating to these requirements is detailed below. The ACT has a voluntary accreditation and registration process.
New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the NT do not currently have accreditation or registration requirements regarding Assistance Dogs. You can view more information for these regions below.
Where there is no State law, or if there’s a conflict between laws, Australian Government law over-rides State/Territory laws.
The Australian Disability Discrimination Act (1992) Section 9(c) provides a national definition of an Assistance Animal (AA) and the standards an AA must meet for it to be permitted in a public place. Unfortunately there is currently no formal recognition of Assistance Dogs in Training (ADiT) under Australian law.
Victoria does give Guide Dogs in Training permission to access public places however other ADiTs are not provided for.
A summary of information relating to ADs from the Office of Local Government follows:
In NSW, a person with a disability is entitled to be accompanied by an Assistance Animal, in public places and on public transport, while they are genuinely using the animal for assistance. Entry cannot be refused without reasonable cause.
Staff in charge of access to public places and transport are entitled to request reasonable proof that your animal is a genuine assistance animal. They may be guided by their organisation’s own policy to help them to determine this.
An AD may be registered under the NSW Companion Animals Act 1998 however this doesn’t guarantee Public Access will be permitted on public transport.
NSW Councils are entitled to request reasonable proof that your animal is a genuine Assistance Animal. This proof may include:
NSW Councils offer a discount or free registration for Assisance Animals. You will probably be required to provide evidence that you have a disability (letter from your GP) and evidence that your AD/ADiT has been trained as an Assistance Animal (training log)
A summary of information relating to ADs in Victoria follows:
Guide dog (and seeing eye dogs), guide dogs in training and guide dog puppies are legally able to go to any event, business or premises in Victoria (except operating theatres)
The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 protects people with disabilities from discrimination. This includes protection from discrimination because a person has an Assistance Dog.
The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog 2009 Act ensures that every person who relies on a certified guide, hearing or assistance dog has the same access rights as others to public places and public passenger vehicles.
Dogs must be certified and be able to pass a Public Access Test (PAT) to ensure they are safe and effective in a public place, public passenger vehicle, or place of accommodation, and are able to be controlled by the handler/s in all situations.
Certified dogs can be almost any breed and will be easily recognised by the badge on their coat or harness.
Handlers accompanied by a certified dog, as well as trainers, are required to carry a handler’s identity card.
For more information covering ADs in Queensland including:
The WA Dog Act 1976 lists approved organisations with automatic Public Access Rights.
Other Assistance Dogs – public access rights for other assistance dogs may be granted on application to the Department. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that there is a need for an Assistance Dog and that the dog meets the specified training criteria. The application must be completed and lodged including a photo of the applicant and the dog. When approved the handler is given an identification card which must be carried at all times. Approved applications are valid for 2 years or 6 months for dogs granted a probationary approval.
Note: a dog which has been accredited under another law of a State or Territory has public access rights in Western Australia. However, if the handler intends to reside in WA for an extended time or permanently the handler should provide evidence of the approval and the CEO can grant a WA authorisation card.