Disability advocate groups have reminded the hospitality sector it is illegal to refuse entry to blind or vision impaired customers with guide dogs.
The move comes after a spate of reports of guide dog handlers being refused entry into Sydney food venues, including bakery-cafés, surfaced throughout the Christmas holidays.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s community education co-ordinator Jennifer Moon said reports of unlawful charges for motel room fees had also serviced and that many more incidences would have gone unreported.
“While we’re not going to name and shame offending venues, we want this type of discrimination to stop because it causes people with vision loss unnecessary humiliation and inconvenience,” she said.
The federal Disability Discrimination Act (1992) and the NSW Companion Animals Act (1998) state it is illegal for hospitality venues to refuse entry to someone with a guide dog or impose extra costs on them, which other guests would not be expected to pay.
“A guide dog is not a pet; it is a highly trained mobility aid that enables a person who is blind or vision impaired to get around safely and independently. By law, a guide dog can accompany their handler anywhere they go, including cafés, restaurants, cinemas and shopping centres,” Ms Moon said.
The Food Standards Code permits a harnessed guide dogs to enter all public places including bakeries and patisseries.
Hospitality venues interested in receiving more information about the guide dog access laws can request a free Guide dogs welcome here information kit or staff training workshops by contacting Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.