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Accessing public places

Certified guide dogs, hearing dogs or assistance dogs, either in training or fully trained, with their approved handlers have the right to enter public places, public passenger vehicles and places of accommodation. This includes shops, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, clubs, rental and holiday accommodation, taxis, planes, public transport and entertainment and sports venues.

The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 protects these rights and imposes penalties for people and businesses breaching the legislation. For example a person or business separating an approved handler or trainer with a certified dog from other patrons in a cafe may be fined up to $12,190 (100 penalty units) for an individual, and 5 times this amount for a corporation.

To identify a certified dog, look for the round blue and white cloth Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs badge on the dog’s coat or harness (there may also be other dog badges or branding).

Approved handlers, (including those who have an alternative handler helping them to physically control the dog) trainers, and puppy carers, accompanied by a certified dog or dog in training must always carry an approved Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs identity card.

To become approved both the handler and the guide, hearing or assistance dog must successfully complete the public access test to confirm the dog is safe and effective in a public place, public passenger vehicle or place of accommodation.

Places a certified dog cannot go

Places where a certified dog cannot go include:

  • certain parts of a health service facility (e.g. hospital, medical centre), namely:
    • an in-patient ward
    • a labour ward
    • a procedure room
    • a recovery area
    • areas where standards of hygiene are maintained at a significantly high level for preventing infection or the spread of disease
    • areas where presence of the dog would affect the safe and effective delivery of health services.
  • an ambulance
  • a part of a public place or public passenger vehicle where food is normally prepared
  • where the presence of the dog would present a risk to the health or welfare of people ordinarily at the place or on the vehicle.

Additional legislation

Other legislation confirming the right of access for a person with disability, who relies on a certified guide, hearing or assistance dog includes:

More information