Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act
From December 2013, Queenslanders who use and rely on hearing, assistance and guide dogs due to their disability will have greater flexibility accessing residential and holiday accommodation.
Amendments to the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act were passed by the Queensland Parliament on the 30 October 2013. These amendments were part of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013.
What do these amendments mean?
- It will provide people with disability who rely on a guide, hearing or assistance dogs a right to access accommodation
- It will also provide a right to access accommodation for approved trainers, employee trainers and puppy carers with trainee support dogs.
- A person can still lawfully refuse entry to a place to a person accompanied by a guide, hearing, assistance or trainee support dog, if the place of accommodation is fully booked.
Prior to these amendments, it was still unlawful to discriminate a person by refusing accommodation because he/she relies on a guide, hearing or assistance do under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld).
However, these latest amendments now make it an offence if an accommodation provider refuses to let places to a person with disability who is accompanied by their certified guide, hearing or assistance dog or an approved trainer, employee trainer or puppy carer is accompanied by a trainee support dog. These people are known as accompanied handlers.
The amendments will also make it illegal for the accommodation person renting the place to:
a. make the accompanied handler pay additional charges because a dog is present
b. keep a person with disability separate from their guide, hearing or assistance dog while at the place
c. refuse a person with disability entry to (or part of) the place because the person would be accompanied by their guide, hearing or assistance dog.
The maximum new penalty for the offence is $11,000 for an individual or $55,000 for a business or corporation.
Definition of accommodation
The definition of accommodation is consistent with the Queensland Government’s (www.qld.gov.au) definition in the Anti-Discrimination Act and includes:
a. a house or flat
b. a hotel or motel
c. a boarding house or hostel
d. a caravan or caravan site
e. a manufactured home under the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act 2003 (Qld)
f. a site within the meaning of the Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Act, section 13
g. a camping site.
It also covers accommodation places such as hotels, motels, caravan parks, backpackers, youth hostels, bed and breakfasts, farm houses, cabins, bungalows and serviced apartments, as well as private, longer-term rental accommodation.
Food preparation and serving
Under the new amendments it is not an offence to refuse a person with disability entry to part of a place of accommodation where food is ordinarily prepared for consumption by residents or members of the public because they are accompanied by their guide, hearing or assistance dog. However, it is an offence to refuse entry for the accompanied handler access to areas where food is consumed.
Under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act a person needs to be able to identify themselves as a person who is accompanied by guide, hearing or assistance dog or a trainee support dog. For example, display identity card or ensure that it is available for inspection and ensure their dog is wearing a harness or identifying coat.
Under the amendments, an accompanied handler must comply with the identification procedure when they:
a. make a reservation or application in person for accommodation at a place of accommodation
b. arrive at a place of accommodation to begin residing in the accommodation.
The amendments also provide that if the accompanied handler did not comply with these identification requirements, the landlord or person in control of accommodation does not commit an offence if they refuse entry. However, it may be an offence for an accompanied handler to be refused accommodation by phone or on the internet because they are accompanied by their guide, hearing or assistance dog.