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Guide dog discrimination regular: survey

Guide dog handlers say they are suffering discrimination when denied access to businesses and public places because of their canine.

New data revealed by Guide Dogs Victoria on Wednesday showed one in two handlers across the country have experienced rejection in the past two years, with some reporting being turned away on 10 occasions.

Cafes and restaurants were the main offenders, followed by taxis and ride share services. Motels, theatres, office buildings and hospitals were also named by handlers as venues where they were refused entry with their dog.

The survey results showed a lack of knowledge of access rights for assistance dogs, which are enforced by law under the Domestic Animals and Disability Discrimination acts, Guide Dogs Victoria CEO Karen Hayes said on Wednesday.

"Restricting access to guide dog handlers has a very real impact on those individuals," she added.

"It can cause people to change their daily routine, choosing to avoid certain public areas or modes of transport, withdrawing from going about their day to day when the guide dog is meant to maximise their independence and mobility."

To decrease the number of refused entries, Guide Dogs Victoria is working on a public information campaign including in collaboration with public transport providers.

The survey results were gathered in March after responses from 127 guide dog handlers across Australia.

RIGHTS OF THE GUIDE DOG HANDLER

* A guide dog in a harness is assisting a person who is blind or has vision loss

* The work of a guide dog is underpinned by the Domestic Animals Act and Disability Discrimination Act

* It is an offence to deny or charge a fee for the entry of a guide dog

* Guide dogs and their handlers have the right to enter public places including shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels, motels, hospitals, medical practices and dental surgeries

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