The ACT assistance animal accreditation framework is voluntary and clarifies and promotes the rights of access of persons with a disability who use an assistance animal.
This means that people who rely on an assistance animal to alleviate the effects of a disability will be able to have their assistance animal tested, accredited and registered as an assistance animal to be issued with an ID card. The ID card will provide handlers, businesses and the community with confidence that the assistance animal meets standards of behaviour and hygiene acceptable for public places.
Assistance animal trainers and assessors
The ACT assistance animal framework introduces a system for assistance animal trainers and assessors to be registered under the Domestic Animals Act 2000 (the Act). Registered assistance animal trainers will be able to train assistance animals to meet the required standards of behaviour and hygiene in public places and perform tasks to alleviate the effects of a disability as well as being able to assess trained assistance animals against the ACT Public Access Test for them to be accredited.
It is an offence to carry out a business training and/or testing and accrediting assistance animals without being registered under the Act.
Due to COVID-19 health and safety measures currently in place it is expected some assistance animal trainer and assessor operations and businesses will be disrupted. All registered trainers and assessors must comply with social distancing requirements. The Public Access Test should not be undertaken
while isolation measures are in place, as assessing requires a registered trainer or assessor to accompany an animal and its handler/s to test its suitability for accreditation in busy locations, such as cafes, shopping centres and public transport. General information on current COVID-19 restrictions
is available on the ACT Government's COVID-19 website.
Who can apply?
Any individuals who believe they have the necessary skills and experience to meet the registered trainer and assessor standards outlined below are eligible to apply.
Recognised organisations do not have to have their staff apply for registration to train or assess assistance animals. However, staff who wish to work as an independent assistance animal trainer or assessor outside of a recognised organisation must apply to be registered.
The trainer and assessor standards require applicants to:
have not been convicted or found guilty of an offence in the last two years under the Domestic Animals Act 2000, Animal Welfare Act 1992 or any state or territory equivalent laws,
have the skills and experience to train and/or determine if an assistance animal meets standards of behaviour and hygiene for a public place and if a team (assistance animal and its handler) are suitable for accreditation,
hold a relevant qualification from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), preferably a Certificate IV; however, a Certificate III is acceptable if the individual can demonstrate extensive experience related to working with assistance animals,
demonstrate experience in working with assistance animals including working with handlers,
demonstrate ongoing professional development including keeping up to date with best-practice methods, which may take the form of formal study, attending industry events and seminars or additional training,
use only force-free methods when training or working with assistance animals,
be able to work with persons with a disability including holding a Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) card,
offer ongoing support to clients, and
maintain secure record keeping in relation to all assistance animal applicants and clients, including unsuccessful applicants who the trainer or assessor chose not to work with, details of automatic fails of the Public Access Test, Public Access Test attempts, details of the dog being trained/tested (such as name, breed and colour) and contact details for all applicants and clients.
In addition to the form, applicants should also provide:
evidence of a relevant qualification,
your CV demonstrating experience training, assessing or working with assistance animals,
a copy of your WWVP card or evidence that you have applied for one (your application will be held until the WWVP registration has been obtained), and
any other supporting documentation that may demonstrate your expertise working with assistance animals.
How much does it cost?
There is no fee to apply to become a registered assistance animal assessor or trainer.
When will the ACT Public Access Test standards be made available?
The standards for testing and accrediting assistance animals in the ACT will be made available at a later date when public access testing is permitted, pending the timing of COVID-19 health and safety measures changing.
What is force-free training?
Force-free training, also known as positive or reward-based training, uses positive reinforcement to encourage wanted behaviours and to discourage unwanted behaviours. Rewards may take the form of praise, treats, playtime, petting or other methods of encouragement. By using force-free training, a relationship of trust and respect is built between the dog and handler. Force-free training has been recommended by assistance animal organisations, is supported by research and supports animal welfare outcomes for assistance animals.
Balanced training methods must not be used on assistance animals or assistance animals in training. Fundamentally no force should be used and the use of choke chains or pain inducing collars, yelling, hitting or any method involving pain or intimidation is not permitted.
Registered trainers and assessors found to be using force when training or assessing assistance animals will have their licence suspended or cancelled.
How long will it take to get an outcome?
All applications will be processed in 30 days, unless an applicant is still waiting on their WWVP card or if other required information has not been provided.
How long is registration valid for?
Registration is valid for 5 years. However, registration may be revoked if registered trainers and assessors fail to adequately meet the standards.
What happens once registration is approved?
Once an application is approved, applicants will be informed in writing and their details will be published on a TCCS assistance animals webpage.
When will the full assistance animal framework take effect?
The full assistance animal framework including accreditations and registrations of assistance animals has been delayed due to COVID-19 health and safety measures that are in place. A revised commencement date will be determined in the coming weeks.
What are the recognised organisations?
When an organisation is recognised under the assistance animal framework, this means the accreditation of an assistance animal by that organisation is recognised as meeting the ACT standards for accreditation and the trainers and assessors associated with the organisation do not have to apply to be registered as independent assistance animal trainers or assessors under the framework.
This does not mean the ACT is ‘accrediting’ or ‘registering’ the organisation as a whole, rather recognising that assistance animals accredited by the organisation meet the ACT’s standards of behaviour and hygiene for public places, the team has been assessed as being able to work together effectively and safely.
Recognised organisations are listed below:
Assistance Dogs Australia
Australian Support Dogs
Guide Dogs Australia
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
Guide Dogs QLD
Guide Dogs SA/NT
Guide Dogs TAS
Guide Dogs VIC
Guide Dogs WA
Integra Service Dogs Australia
Seeing Eye Dogs Australia – Vision Australia
Any assistance animal organisation, Australian or international, that is formally recognised by Assistance Dogs International and the International Guide Dog Federation and is not already listed above.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.