26 April 2012
The NSW Government has warned the hospitality industry, venues face heavy fines if entry is denied to people who are vision impaired and their guide dogs.
Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, reminded venues of their responsibilities at today's launch of Guide Dog Awareness Week at NSW Parliament.
"Venues face a maximum fine of $880 under the NSW Companion Animal Act, if they refuse access to people who are vision impaired and their guide dogs," Mr Constance said.
"Under NSW and Federal laws, harnessed guide dogs are legally allowed to accompany their owner into public areas of all venues."
"These guide dog access laws have been in place for more than three decades but Guide Dogs NSW is still reporting at least one case every month."
"Refusal is not only illegal, it's an upsetting, disappointing and often embarrassing situation for the person who is vision impaired."
The Minister was joined by Federal Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM, to promote the Guide Dogs Welcome Here campaign.
"It's quite upsetting and disappointing when I'm refused entry to or questioned about coming into a restaurant with my guide dog, because it's like I'm being treated differently from everyone in the community," Mr Innes said.
"Apart from it being against the law, it's the impact and damage it can have on a person, which might cause them to participate in life in a more limited way."
"I urge NSW hospitality venues to support the Guide Dogs Welcome Here campaign so patrons with guide dogs and other service dogs can experience the same level of service as any other customer."
Mr Constance said Guide Dogs NSW does a great job working with organisations and industries, providing training to ensure employees are aware of the access rights of guide dogs and their owners.
"I urge hospitality venues which have not yet taken up the offer to do so and proudly display the Guide Dogs Welcome Here sticker," Mr Constance said.
Further information can be found at www.guidedogs.com.au or by calling 9412 9300.