Pups take over Parliament to discuss systemic issues faced by Seeing Eye Dogs and handlers

13 September 2023

Vision Australia took centre stage with Seeing Eye Dog puppies in training at Australian Parliament House on Tuesday September 12, meeting with decision makers in hopes of putting an end to dog guide discrimination, amongst other key issues.

The event aimed to raise awareness that if Seeing Eye Dogs are allowed in parliamentary buildings, they should have the same rights almost everywhere, including in taxis and rideshare vehicles.

Caption: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gets to know Seeing Eye Dogs puppy Lana along with Chris Edwards, Vision Australia director of government relations and advocacy and Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services the Hon. Bill Shorten at Australia Parliament House. 

Vision Australia director of government relations, advocacy, NDIS and aged care, Chris Edwards, and his Seeing Eye Dog, Eva, are no strangers to taxi and rideshare discrimination.

“In Australia, Seeing Eye Dogs can only be legally denied from operating theatres, commercial kitchens and zoos, yet Eva and I are questioned almost on a weekly basis by taxi and rideshare drivers,” Chris said.

“This is a systemic issue for people who are blind or have low vision, and further education is urgently needed.

“Increasing awareness about the permissible locations for Seeing Eye Dogs marks a significant stride towards achieving complete inclusiveness. This matter holds great significance for everyone within the blind and low vision community.”

Taxi and rideshare discrimination isn’t the only matter that Vision Australia hopes to address through this event, but also mandating alerting systems for electric vehicles.

“We continue to call on the Australian Government to adopt the same alerting systems in electric vehicles that most major markets in Europe, the UK and other parts of the world have,” Chris said.

“Our studies show that too many blind or low-vision Australians are involved in an accident or near-collision with an electric car due to its lack of noise.

“Access and safety are paramount for the blind and low vision community, and we look to Parliament to address these issues.”