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Tuesday / May 21.
HomeminewsTaxis, Rideshare Target of Assistance Animals Campaign

Taxis, Rideshare Target of Assistance Animals Campaign

Safe Transport Victoria has launched a campaign to educate taxi and rideshare drivers about the rights of passengers to ride with their assistance animals.

It is hoped that the Drive with Heart campaign, which was launched in early April at Melbourne airport, will improve the experience for passengers travelling with assistance animals.

As part of the campaign, taxi and rideshare drivers are learning about highly trained assistance animals, as well as getting the chance to meet Seeing Eye Dogs and speak to assistance animal handlers about their lived experiences.

Tammy O’Connor, CEO, Safe Transport Victoria said it is important for “drivers to remember that assistance animals are welcome in every ride” because “many people living with a disability rely on commercial passenger vehicles to lead full and inclusive lives and make the most of work opportunities”.

The program is supported by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission as well as Vision Australia.

Ro Allen, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner observed “It was great to launch the campaign with taxi and rideshare drivers at Melbourne Airport, where they got to meet Seeing Eye Dog puppies and speak to assistance animal handlers about their experiences to dispel common misconceptions.”

“Being refused access to a taxi or rideshare is an unacceptable form of discrimination experienced by people who are blind or have low vision,” they said.

This campaign to educate drivers is so important so that people with disability like myself can live the life we choose and manage our daily activities just like anybody else.

Offence to Refuse Service

Assistance animals, including guide dogs, are allowed in all taxis and rideshare vehicles and it is an offence to refuse service for to a passenger with their assistance animal. Their rigorous safety and relationship training means they will not bite, lick or jump on people or other animals.

However, as Chris Edwards, Vision Australia Manager Government Relations and Advocacy, finds, “it’s still all too common” to be denied a taxi or rideshare booking when he travels with Eva, his Seeing Eye Dog.

“This takes away my ability to be an independent member of the community. Seeing Eye Dogs and all assistance animals are trained to calmy travel in a vehicle and are legally entitled to do so. This campaign to educate drivers is so important so that people with disability like myself can live the life we choose and manage our daily activities just like anybody else.”

Passengers who are refused service because of their assistance animal should lodge a complaint by visiting the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) website or calling them on (AUS) 1300 292 153, and with the relevant Booking Service Provider.