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Assistance Animal Access Guidelines and Procedures

PRO-008, Version 2.0, 17 February 2012

1. Title

Assistance animal access guidelines and procedures

2. Scope

2.1 Purpose

2.1.1 To provide information on the Museum’s procedures for enabling assistance animals to enter and remain on Museum premises in specified circumstances. The guidelines address:

a) the circumstances in which Museum staff may require the person seeking entry with an animal to produce evidence that the animal is an assistance animal or that it is trained to meet the standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for a public place;

b) the procedures to be followed when a person fails to produce the required evidence; and

c) the circumstances in which staff should request that the person seeking entry keep the animal under control of that person or another person on behalf of that person.

2.1.2 These guidelines and procedures are provided for the information of all Museum staff (including security, cleaning, maintenance and catering contractors), Museum volunteers, Museum visitors and members of the public.

2.2 Background

2.2.1 Regulation 22 of the Museum Regulations currently states that a person must not intentionally allow an animal to enter or remain in a Museum building. However, this rule does not apply to a blind person who takes his or her guide dog into a Museum building.

2.2.2 Amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), which came into force in 2003, make it unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person because they are accompanied by an assistance animal. Further amendments in 2008, which came into effect in August 2009, clarify many of the rights and responsibilities. In particular, the amendments confirm that it is not unlawful to require evidence from a person that their animal is an assistance animal. The DDA amendments override the Museum regulations when there is inconsistency between them.

2.2.3 The DDA prevents the Museum from refusing entry to its premises because the person has an assistance animal. Although ‘assistance animals’ clearly includes guide dogs, the category is much broader. However, the Museum is able, in accordance with the DDA, to determine whether an animal is in fact an assistance animal, and whether it would pose a threat to the health and safety of Museum staff and visitors.

3. Guidelines and procedures

3.1 Identifying an assistance animal

3.1.1 Visual identification

Any member of Museum staff may be satisfied that an animal is an assistance animal (without the need for an Authorised Officer to ask a person to produce further evidence), if one or more of the following is clearly visible on the animal:

a) an assistance dog badge or medallion (displayed, for example, on its harness, collar, lead, coat, cape or vest);

b) an assistance dog harness;

c) a coat, cape or vest clearly identifying them as an assistance animal;

d) an assistance animal identity card, pass, or permit (displayed, for example, on its harness, collar, lead, coat, cape or vest); or

e) a Museum-issued label identifying them as an assistance animal for the purpose of visiting the Museum when a person has provided evidence, in accordance with these guidelines and procedures, satisfying an Authorised Officer that the person’s animal is an assistance animal.

3.2 When evidence can be required

3.2.1 If none of the above items is clearly visible on the animal the Museum can lawfully require a person to provide evidence that their animal is in fact an assistance animal. If a Museum staff member is concerned that the animal in question is not displaying visual identification as an assistance animal, the staff member should contact an Authorised Officer who will then liaise with the person responsible for the animal.

3.2.2 In the event of any dispute between a visitor and a Museum staff member, the staff member is to contact their supervisor and request an Authorised Officer to come to their location.

3.2.3 Where evidence is to be required, an Authorised Officer must follow the procedures set out in 3.3.

3.2.4 The Museum will be satisfied that the animal is an assistance animal if the person can produce any of the items listed at 3.1.1 (a– d) above, or any of the following:

a) assistance animal accreditation (for example, an identity card, pass, passbook, passport or permit) issued by a state or territory assistance animal training provider;

b) a state or territory government-issued transport pass or permit; or

c) other evidence that shows the animal has been trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and to meet the standards of hygiene and behaviour acceptable for a public place.

3.2.5 Examples of the range and types of identification documents and materials which are acceptable as evidence are described at 3.4.2 below.

3.3 Procedures

3.3.1 Where the provision of evidence is required, an Authorised Officer should politely ask the person who is accompanied by the animal whether their animal is an assistance animal. If the person does not use this description, the meaning of assistance animal should be explained following the definition in DDA section 9:

An assistance animal is a dog or other animal which has been trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and to meet the standards of hygiene and behaviour acceptable for a public place. Sometimes such animals will have accreditation (and some form of identification) under a state or territory scheme.

3.3.2 Even if the person does not have documentary evidence, they may still be able to demonstrate that the animal is trained and responds to their commands. Assistance animals in this category are sometimes referred to as ‘self-proclaimed’ assistance animals. The person in control of a ‘self-proclaimed’ assistance animal should be able to demonstrate that they can keep the animal under control, or that another person who is also present can keep the animal under control on their behalf.

3.3.3 Although an ‘assistance animal’ means an animal trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability, an Authorised Officer should not be insensitive or disrespectful in seeking evidence, and should not seek unnecessary information.

3.3.4 For example; it would be acceptable to ask ‘Would you tell me how the animal is trained to assist you?’ However, it would not be appropriate to ask for details of the person’s disability. Any information that a person volunteers as part of such a discussion is potentially sensitive and should be treated discreetly and respectfully.

3.3.5 It would also be appropriate to politely inform the person that it is their responsibility to ensure that the animal meets appropriate standards of hygiene and behaviour while at the Museum.

3.3.6 If an Authorised Officer is not satisfied that the animal is an assistance animal, they should politely explain that they do not believe the person has provided evidence that the animal is an assistance animal within the meaning of the DDA. They should also explain that it is unlawful to bring an animal into the Museum unless it is a guide dog or other assistance animal.

3.4 Identification documents

3.4.1 There is no standard system of accreditation for assistance animals which applies throughout Australia. No specific animal training organisations have been prescribed for the purposes of section 9 of the DDA (which defines ‘assistance animals’). However, there are a number of assistance animal training organisations which use a variety of identification methods and materials. Some Australian states have certification or accreditation processes for assistance dogs, and there are certification systems in some states which allow assistance animals to accompany their handlers on public transport.

3.4.2 Although this list of examples is not exhaustive, the following types of documents and materials constitute acceptable evidence that an animal is an assistance animal for the purposes of 3.1.1 and 3.2.4 above:

3.4.2.1 Animal training organisations

  • Guide Dogs Australia (harness/medallion)
  • Assistance Animals Australia (blue jacket)
  • Lions Club Hearing Dogs (orange lead/collar/coat)
  • Righteous Pups Australia (green coat)

3.4.2.2 State/territory certification or accreditation of assistance animals

  • Queensland: Certification under Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009
  • South Australia: accreditation as a disability dog, guide dog or hearing dog under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995

3.4.2.3 State/territory public transport access passes

  • Victoria: Assistance Animal Pass
  • New South Wales: Assistance Animal Permit

3.5 Access, goods, services and facilities

3.5.1 Persons seeking entry with an assistance animal may access all areas of Museum buildings that may be accessed by the general public. This includes but is not limited to:

a) all permanent and temporary exhibition spaces

b) all function rooms and areas whether or not food is being served

c) all education rooms – Bunyip, Biami and Yowie

d) administration areas in accordance with PRO-005

e) Cuiseum Bistro – both inside and the deck area

f) the Museum Library

g) Visions Theatre

h) Garden of Australian Dreams

i) Kspace

j) Circa

k) the Museum Shop

Refer to 7.1 for guidelines and procedures on access by Museum staff, volunteers or contractors with assistance animals.

3.5.2 Persons seeking entry with an assistance animal will not be allowed to have access to restricted areas, including:

a) commercial kitchens

b) AQIS-approved quarantine areas within Museum buildings

c) collection storage spaces (other than during special events and public programs).

Refer to 7.1 for guidelines and procedures on access by Museum staff, volunteers or contractors with assistance animals.

3.5.3 All Museum staff must be aware that it is unlawful to:

a) refuse any goods, services or access to facilities to a person on the grounds that the person has an assistance animal; or

b) demand an additional fee or charge of any kind be paid because a person is accompanied by an assistance animal. It is lawful, however, to charge a fee in relation to a service which is provided to the assistance animal, where applicable.

3.6 Refusing entry to persons accompanied by animals

3.6.1 It is lawful to refuse access to Museum buildings to a person who is accompanied by an animal if:

a) no evidence is provided by the person seeking entry with the animal, when requested, which shows that it is an assistance animal or is trained to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour acceptable for a public place;

b) the animal presents with signs that it has an infectious disease; or

c) the animal exhibits behaviour that could endanger people’s health, or the health of other animals at the Museum.

3.7 Procedures for requiring persons to control or remove an assistance animal

3.7.1 Where an assistance animal is exhibiting behaviour which:

a) is threatening to people or to other assistance animals in the Museum;

b) is likely to cause damage to the Museum building or Museum exhibits; or

c) is unhygienic or otherwise poses a threat to public health (for example, displays symptoms of infectious illness)

the procedures detailed in 3.7.2 to 3.7.6 should be followed.

3.7.2 A Museum staff member may request the person who has control of the assistance animal to stop the behaviour and/or ensure that the behaviour is not repeated.

3.7.3 When such a request is made, the Museum staff member may also warn the person that if they do not control the assistance animal in the manner requested, or if the behaviour continues or recurs, then the person will be required to remove the assistance animal from the Museum.

3.7.4 In some cases it may be necessary for an Authorised Officer to ask a person who has been permitted entry to the Museum with an assistance animal, to remove the assistance animal from the Museum (whether or not a request has previously been made in accordance with the procedures at 3.7.2.). This will only occur where the behaviour, health or hygiene of the animal requires its removal.

3.7.5 It is lawful to require a person to remove their assistance animal from the Museum if:

a) the animal presents a danger, or causes injury to other people or animals in the Museum or

b) the animal damages the building or Museum exhibits.

3.7.6 Any refusal to allow entry or requests to a person to remove their assistance animal or to leave the Museum must be made and documented by an Authorised Officer.

4. Definition of terms

AQIS

Australian Quarantine and Investigation Service

Authorised Officer

A person who is appointed by the Museum Director, in writing, in accordance with Part 6 of the National Museum of Australia Regulations 2000. Currently persons occupying or performing the duties of the following Museum positions are Authorised Officers:

  • Assistant Director
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Manager, Facilities
  • Security Coordinator
  • Security Support Officer
  • Security Supervisor
  • Security Guards

DDA

Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)

Museum

National Museum of Australia

Museum regulations

National Museum of Australia Regulations 2000

5. Definition of responsibilities

Manager, Visitor Services and Volunteers

  • Managing and implementing the Assistance animal access guidelines and procedures.

Visitor Services Hosts

  • Identifying an animal as an assistance animal visually
  • Ensuring identified assistance animals can access all public areas of Museum buildings
  • Ensuring persons with identified assistance animals can access goods, services and facilities

Authorised Officers

Requesting and approving evidence for animals not visibly identified as an assistance animal as outlined in 3.3

  • Refusing entry to an animal as outlined in 3.6
  • Lawfully removing animals or persons in accordance with the procedures outlined in 3.7

Museum staff

  • Responsible for familiarising themselves with Museum obligations in relation to assistance animals and complying with these procedures.

6. Relevant policies

None

7. Implementation

7.1 Coverage

These guidelines and procedures describe how to identify an assistance animal, defines, accessible areas within Museum buildings for visitors with assistance animals and states the procedure used when an animal is required to leave a Museum Building.

In compliance with the Museum’s obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 Museum staff with an assistance animal will be supported by Human Resources, volunteers with assistance animals will be supported by the Visitor Services and Volunteers team and contractors with assistance animals employed on site will be supported by the Facilities team. The reasonable adjustment principles will be applied.

7.2 Other related procedures

PRO-005 Visitor access – Acton Main Building Procedure

Visitor Services Operations Manual

Client Service Charter

7.3 Exclusions

None

7.4 Monitoring

This procedure is overseen by the Manager, Visitor Services and Volunteers and will be reviewed in May 2015.

ID PRO-008
Version 2.0
Version date 17 February 2012
Approved by National Museum of Australia Executive
Original approval date 16 August 2010
File 10/1092
Availability For internal National Museum of Australia use and publication on the Museum’s website
Keywords Assistance, animal, access, authorised officer
Responsible officer Access & Client Services Support Officer
History New procedure
Key changes NA
Review date May 2015
Related documents National Museum of Australia Regulations 2000
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)
Visitor Access – Acton Main Building Procedure PRO-005
Contact

National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6208 5000
Email: information@nma.gov.au
Web: www.nma.gov.au


Originally approved by Executive: 16 August 2010