A person with a disability may be entitled to be accompanied by an assistance animal in public buildings where animals would normally be excluded.
To exclude a person because he or she is accompanied by an assistance animal is unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) unless unjustifiable hardship can be shown.
Not all disabilities are visible.
Assistance animals support people who:
- Are blind or vision impaired
- Are deaf or hard of hearing
- Require physical support for mobility or functional tasks
- Experience episodic medical conditions (e.g. epilepsy, diabetes)
- Experience psychiatric conditions (e.g. PTSD, panic attacks)
Assistance animals are specially trained to help the person they assist.
Companion animals are not within the DDA definition of an assistance animal unless they have the appropriate training or accreditation.
The presence of animals at North Metropolitan TAFE is conditional upon the following:
- The animal must be accredited or trained to assist a person to alleviate the effect of a disability
- The animal must meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate in a public place
- Upon request, the handler must be able to produce evidence of appropriate accreditation or training of the animal
- The animal must be under the effective control of its handler or another person on behalf of the handler.
- Ask permission to touch, pet or talk to the animal – but don’t be offended if you are not allowed
- Speak to the handler, not the animal
- Walk on the side of the handler, opposite from where the animal is
- Let the handler know if the animal has approached you so they can correct its behaviour.
• Distract the animal or to get its attention – best to just ignore the animal
• Feed the animal or offer it food
• Ask the handler why they have an assistance animal
• Physically handle the animal – ask the handler how you can help if they seem to need assistance
The impact on the health and wellbeing of staff and students may also need to be considered. For example, phobias and allergies may make the presence of an assistance animal a hazard under provisions of Work Health and Safety legislation.