Assistance Animals and Your Venue

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Following a recent discrimination case in Queensland where a venue was prosecuted under discrimination laws and fined $8,000 for not allowing an assistance dog into the venue, it’s important to know what your legal obligations are and also what your rights are regarding animals in your venue.

An Assistance Dog is any dog that is helping a person with a disability and has met the state standards for public access rights. They can help with a range of conditions, both physical and psychological. Assistance Dogs include guide dogs and hearing dogs.
The rights of a person with an Assistance Dog are protected under Federal Law through the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). The DDA allows qualified Assistance Dogs to accompany their handler into all public spaces (apart from the venue’s kitchen and food preparation areas).

What are your rights as a venue proprietor and what can you expect?

  • You are legally allowed to ask for some documentation showing the Assistance Dog is qualified, accredited and serving the person they are with. The handler must carry an approved Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs identify card in Queensland.
  • The animal will have a jacket with branding from the organisation that qualified it (example below)
  • You can expect that the animal is clean, well maintained, very well behaved and highly obedient to its handler.
  • When the animal is in the venue, it is best to ignore it as much as possible. It is there to do a job.

More information is contained in the Qld Government Information for Businesses – Guide, hearing and assistance dogsPlease ensure your reception / security staff are aware of these requirements. Note that there are no systems of accreditation for assistance dogs in NT, ACT or Tasmania. 

For any clarification or questions, please contact Michelle Pitman, DWS Work Health Safety & Compliance Advisor, on 0401 014 619 or

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