Assistance dogs are some of the most underrated forms of comfort and care for people with disabilities.

According to Assistance Dogs Australia, 31 Aussie families have received an assistance dog in the 2019/2020 financial year, and 100 per cent of clients feel safer and more confident with an assistance dog.

In a piece of welcoming news to those with hearing disabilities, new studies have shown that these trained dogs positively impact the lives of deaf people. But how does it work in Australia, and are they funded by NDIS?

Assistance dogs in Australia 

Assistance dogs are working animals specially trained to help people living with physical disabilities. These dogs help their owners move around, become more independent, and can perform everyday activities and tasks such as:

  • Picking up items such as phones and keys
  • Turning on lights and switches in the house
  • Alerting people to medical issues such as low blood pressure and seizures
  • Finding and leading other people to an affected owner
  • Providing owners with emotional support and companionship

In Australia, assistance dogs and other assistance animals are recognised under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and must be legally allowed in public places. The National Disability Gateway website offers plenty of information on this and more for those seeking state-specific information.

Groundbreaking new findings

Fortunately, new studies from the U.K. shows that assistance dogs can significantly improve the lives of deaf people.

In one study comparing 165 deaf people waiting to get an assistance dog with those who already have one, assistance dogs have shown significant positive impacts on deaf people who own them.

These dog owners have recorded better mental well-being with lesser symptoms of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, they were less dependent on others and showed less reliance on social and health services. 

This study confirms what we already know. Besides emotional support, these dogs give their owners the confidence they need by alerting them to everyday sounds such as doorbells, human voices, and alarms.

With assistance dogs, deaf people ultimately feel less fearful at home and in public, and they can now gain a sense of independence and control in their daily lives.

Future of assistance dogs in Australia 

Since the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, assistance dogs have become an incredible resource for many people with a disability in Australia. Thousands of families rely on assistance dogs to help them with their everyday lives.

If you are looking at welcoming an assistance dog into your home, several charities and organisations can help you learn more about them and if they are right for you. Some of the most noteworthy charities are Assistance Dogs Australia and Guide Dogs Australia.

 NDIS and assistance dogs

NDIS does fund assistance dogs, or guide dogs, and some NDIS participants are eligible to use them as disability support. However, the NDIA will have to assess if the dog is reasonable and necessary for your needs and goals to get this funding.

Generally, the NDIA will only fund an assistance animal that has passed or will pass the individual state’s Public Access Test. You would also need to write to the NDIA and show evidence that an assistance dog is reasonable and necessary support for you.

Besides the applicant, NDIA also requires evidence in writing for assistance dogs from the following people:

  • A registered assistance animal provider
  • Allied health professional(s)

The NDIS website has all you need to know about NDIS and funding, and it’s an excellent place to start your research.

Assistance dogs can bring many priceless benefits to their owners. Fortunately, they are funded here by the NDIA in Australia, which means that getting one is certainly attainable for you.

If you’d like to learn more about finding new NDIS providers, getting new support for your NDIS plan, or getting started with the NDIS, CareAbout is here to discuss all your NDIS-specific questions. Contact us today for a personalised chat on your needs.