Is a service animal the right fit for you?

14 July 2021
Service animals have traditionally been associated with assisting individuals who are blind or vision impaired. However, there is an increasing demand for service animals throughout the disabled community as we gain a richer understanding of the invaluable benefits that they can provide to humans.

Assistance animals can assist people with hearing impairments, provide physical support to individuals with mobility issues, autism spectrum disorder, and epilepsy.  In addition, they are also recognised as Emotional Support Animals (ESA), offering calming support to people with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Naturally, this skillset arguably makes an assistance animal an ideal companion for some individuals with cerebral palsy.

Understandably, assistance like this comes with considerable cost, with food, vaccinations, equipment, and training adding up to more than $40,000, and waitlists can be considerable. However, with assistance dogs now covered under the NDIS, there is a growing appreciation for the social and financial benefits these service dogs can offer.

Meeting the criteria to get a service dog covered on your NDIS plan is not without its challenges, particularly amid growing criticism surrounding the use of fake service dogs. Applicants are expected to provide evidence that an assistance dog is necessary for fulfilling their life goals. In addition, they need to provide supporting documentation from an allied health professional and a registered assistance animal provider.

In addition to having the cost of a service animal added to a plan, successful applicants can also have the costs of upkeep, such as food and veterinary visits covered. NDIS will typically cover up to $2,600 per year.

Generally, when considering an application for an assistance animal, the NDIA is looking for evidence that having an assistance animal will enable a participant to achieve the life objectives outlined in their plan. They also like to consider a participant’s current level of function and whether an assistance animal will improve their social and economic participation in the community.

Organisations such as Assistance Dogs Australia and Australian Support Dogs (ASDOGS) are fully dedicated to pairing trained assistance dogs with individuals with disabilities and additional needs.

Service animals offer multiple benefits. Along with improving a person’s independence, they can create better self-esteem and even reduce NDIS related costs for taxpayers. People who utilise assistance animals have better opportunities to participate in education, employment, and this.

There is a reduction in extra assistance that would typically require hiring staff such as support workers. With such obvious advantages, it makes getting an assistance animal worth considering.

Innovative Choices BannerPartner with the cerebral palsy specialists and choose your own support workers.

CPSN’s Innovative Choices program allows you to choose your own support worker while we help you manage their employment.

For more information, call 1300 277 600 and speak with our friendly team or via email: enquiries@cpsn.org.au

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