Guide Dogs launch “Say Welcome” campaign

Web banner features an image of a Guide Dog and reads 'Say Welcome! It's an offence to say no. By law, Guide Dogs and pups in training can go anywhere.'

Guide Dogs and Tasmanian Hospitality Association work together to end discrimination

With one in three Guide Dog handlers experiencing discrimination when it comes to accessing restaurants and cafes, Guide Dogs Tasmania is partnering with the Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) in the lead up to International Guide Dog Day (25 April) to launch its Say Welcome! campaign, and spread the word that Guide Dogs can go anywhere.

Say Welcome! will see Guide Dogs Tasmania working with the THA over the next 12 months to ensure those working in the hospitality industry understand the law surrounding Guide Dog access rights. Under The Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs Act 1967, it is an offence to refuse a person with a Guide Dog entry into a public place.

Sara with Guide Dog Pepper at Graduation

Sara with Guide Dog Pepper

“For people living with blindness or vision impairment, a Guide Dog helps them to navigate their way around safely and enjoy a varied social life,” Guide Dogs Tasmania spokesperson, Kate Grady, said.

“To be refused entry or even questioned can cause humiliation and anxiety, with many Guide Dog handlers changing their daily routines as a result. Some also think twice about taking their Guide Dog out with them to certain places, which defeats the purpose of having a Guide Dog.”

Sara Waitzer of Hobart has had several instances where she’s been questioned or refused entry to cafes and restaurants, because of her Guide Dog Pepper. Just recently, Ms Waitzer was finalising a restaurant booking over the phone. When she mentioned her Guide Dog would be with her, she was told that this would not be possible.

“Being questioned or refused entry to a restaurant or cafe is almost like being told you’re wearing the wrong pair of shoes. You’re not doing anything wrong but you’re made to feel as though you are.”

“It’s quite confronting to be told that Pepper, who provides me with independence, safety and mobility, was not welcome, and therefore I was not welcome. Thankfully, I’ve had mostly positive experiences when it comes to hospitality service, and I believe the few negative experiences are mainly due to the law not being fully understood.”

Steve Old, CEO of the THA, said he welcomes the partnership with Guide Dogs Tasmania and wants to help spread the word to THA members.

The sticker which will be displayed in venues around Tasmania.

“Most people working in the hospitality industry understand the law and do the right thing, however we don’t want to see anyone discriminated against because of their disability.

“Hotels, restaurants and cafes are for everyone to enjoy, so we’re pleased to get on board and ensure our members understand the law and what they can do to make accessing these venues an enjoyable experience for everyone.”

What we’re doing:

  • Providing information packs to the THA to distribute to its members.
  • Creating a poster for THA members than can be put up on notice boards, reminding employees of the Law surrounding Guide Dog access rights.
  • Providing stickers to THA members and non-members for public display in their venue, showing patrons that Guide Dogs can go anywhere.
  • Hosting a media launch in the lead up to International Guide Dog Day to help spread the message further.