Assistance animals are animals that are specially trained to support a person with a disability for things related to their disability. This can help the person to be more independent.
At the moment, there are different laws for different types of assistance animals. In Victoria, the Equal Opportunity Act only recognises the following types of assistance animal:
- Guide dogs for people with vision impairment
- Hearing dogs for people with hearing impairment
- Assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities.
For all of Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act recognises these assistance animals. It also recognises other animals specially trained to help a person with a disability or medical condition. For example, it includes seizure-detection dogs, or dogs that detect blood sugar changes in people with diabetes.
These laws give certain rights to people who use assistance animals. If these rights are not respected, you have a right to complain. You can complain to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, or the Australian Human Rights Commission. An advocate, for example from the Youth Disability Advocacy Service, can help you with this.