The Law Surrounding Assistance Dogs.

The Federal Law in Australia that references Assistance Dogs, and protects a disabled person's right to have their Assistance Dog accompany them is the Disability Discrimination Act (1992). Some states within Australia have additional legislation in regard to Assistance Dogs, however, all Assistance Dogs who meet the definition as outlined in the Disability Discrimination Act must be recognised and respected as such. Here are some of the most relevant sections of the Act in relation to Assistance Dogs, you can find a full copy of the Act here

Legal Definition of an Assistance Animal: 

" 9  Carer, assistant, assistance animal and disability aid definitions

 (2)  For the purposes of this Act, an assistance animal is a dog or other animal:

  •  (a)  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

  • (b)  accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; or

  • (c)  trained:

    (i)  to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; and

    (ii)  to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.

  • Note: For exemptions from Part 2 for discrimination in relation to assistance animals, see section 54A. "

Any Assistance Dog trained to these standards are legally considered an Assistance Dog within Australia, whether they are trained through an Organisation or Association, with a private trainer, or trained solely by their handler. 

" 54A  Assistance animals


(1)  This section applies in relation to a person with a disability who has an assistance animal.
Note:          For when a person with a disability has an assistance animal, see subsections 9(2) and (4).
 

(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:

  • (a)  the person with the disability; or

  • (b)  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. " 

This section states that it can be (and usually is) expected that an Assistance Dog remains under effective control, this can be on or off-leash, and may be worked by another person on behalf of the disabled handler, as long as the dog is responding effectively to direction. 

"(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:

  • (a)  the discriminator reasonably suspects that the assistance animal has an infectious disease; and

  • (b)  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:

  • (a)  the animal is an assistance animal; or

  • (b)  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:

  • (a)  the discriminator requests or requires the person with the disability to produce evidence referred to in subsection (5); and

  • (b)  the person with the disability neither:
    (i)  produces evidence that the animal is an assistance animal; nor
    (ii)  produces evidence that the animal is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place."