Right now it’s almost impossible for participants to use their plans to access a psychiatric support dog. This stems from blatant discrimination, impossible-to-achieve certification, and a shocking lack of ongoing support for participants with support animals.
None of this is acceptable.
The NDIA should be considering assistance animals as comprehensive and worthy additions to NDIS plans, not unobtainable line items.
Additionally, we’re calling for assistance animals to be seen for exactly what they are: living assistance technology that can provide excellent support to many disabled Australians.
For this to happen, we know we need to change a few things.
- The NDIA needs to break its long-running cycle of discrimination.
We know it’s much harder for autistic people and those with psychosocial disabilities to access the support they need from their NDIS plans compared to those with physical disabilities. At the moment, psychological support animals are much harder to access than guide dogs and there is no clear reason why that is.
The assumption that those with certain disabilities are inherently cruel towards animals or are unable to care for them is an appalling and ableist viewpoint that we need to fight against.
- NDIS plans need to provide funding and access to PAT accreditation for support animals.
The NDIA has managed to create one of its most bizarre, never-ending, circular situations yet.
To receive funding for a support animal to live in your home, that animal must be PAT accredited. For any animal to be PAT accredited, they must have been trained alongside the person they are providing support to.
So how can you achieve PAT certification without PAT certification? You actually can’t!
And the worst part? The NDIA will not currently provide funding to achieve PAT accreditation.
So the present situation leaves people without access to animals because they are not accredited, while also barring access to getting an animal accredited.
Confused? Us too.
The simple answer is this: NDIS plans must include allowances for PAT accreditation, and all other certification that your home state may require.
- There needs to be a comprehensive and ongoing plan to check-in, upskill, and train animals in the home.
The NDIS must consider assistance animals like psychiatric support dogs to be vital and necessary technical supports for participants. This should include regular training (the same way you’d regularly look after your wheelchair!) and consistent check-ins coordinated with the participant and with their, and the animal’s, comfort at the core.
Investment in assistance animals makes sense.
It will ensure safety, comfort, support, and happiness for countless participants and their loved ones. Breaking down barriers between participants and their furry companions is an important part of our plan to #FixOurNDIS.