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Legislation opens more doors for assistance dogs

MEDIA RELEASE

People with disability will benefit from improved access and streamlined services after the passing of the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Amendment Bill in state Parliament today.

Disability Services Minister Coralee O’Rourke said the Amendment Bill had improved the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 by closing gaps identified during its review.

“Guide, hearing and assistance dogs are special working dogs trained to allow people with disability to get out in the community and be more independent,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“They perform a range of tasks that help people with various disabilities in their daily lives, such as calling for lifts, picking up parcels, turning on lights and paying cashiers.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see many of these working dogs in action and the impact of their role can’t be underestimated.

“We’re committed to improving the lives of people with disability and we expect the changes to this legislation will do just that.”

Changes under the Amendment Bill include expanding the access rights to alternative handlers who may be required to assist a primary handler to control a certified dog (for example, a child with disability) and authorising trainers and training institutions to issue handler identity cards.

The Bill has removed the need for handlers to prove a disability when renewing identity cards and restrictions have been lifted on the certification of dogs belonging to shareholders, directors and employees of training institutions.

The Bill will also equip departmental authorised officers with greater powers to investigate any complaints made and enforce compliance with the Act.

Changes are expected to come into effect in 2016.

Minister O’Rourke said a communication strategy had been developed in partnership with industry stakeholders to raise awareness of the Act.

“Under Queensland law these specially-trained and certified dogs have the same access rights in public places as everyone else,” she said.

“This includes shops, hospitality venues, rental and holiday accommodation, taxis, aircraft, public transport and entertainment and sporting facilities.

“I want business owners and people in the broader community to be aware of these rights.”

ENDS

For more information visit the Minister for Disability Services, the Hon Coralee O'Rourke's website.

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