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Our welcoming coast

Shayne Fraser and guide dog Ernie

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Our welcoming coast

Some businesses are still refusing to serve guide dogs and their handlers, but not on the friendly Sunshine Coast.

The Sunshine Coast is full of dog-loving and community-driven residents so it’s no wonder it has been named one of the friendliest regions in Australia for guide dogs and their handlers.

Someone who can attest to this is Sippy Downs resident Shayne Fraser and his beloved guide dog Ernie.

As part International Guide Dog Day on April 27, Mr Fraser says local business always go above and beyond to make him and Ernie feel welcome.

“I spend a lot of time on the weekends at local cafes and they are amazing with accommodating me and my mates who also have guide dogs,” he says. “They not only fulfil their legal obligation to grant access to my guide dog, but they go above and beyond to make us feel welcome.”

However, the same cannot be said for the rest of the country after a recent Guide Dogs Australia survey found more than a third of people with a guide dog have been refused access to public places in the past 12 months.

In all states and territories across Australia it is illegal to refuse entry to a guide dog in a harness with its handler into any public place. This includes shops, restaurants, public transport and taxi/ride shares. It is also an offence to deny or charge a fee for the entry of a guide dog.

Mr Fraser says he experienced refusals many years ago but in recent times he is finding businesses around the Sunshine Coast to be knowledgeable of a guide dog’s public access rights.

Guide Dogs Queensland general manager Lee Buckingham says he is pleased with the reports from guide dog handlers on the Sunshine Coast.

“We know that refusals can leave a lasting impact on a guide dog handler’s daily routine, and their confidence to be active in their community,” Mr Buckingham says.

“We would like to thank the Sunshine Coast for setting the example of how to treat people with a guide dog.”

In response to the survey results, Guide Dogs Australia is launching a national Rethink Refusal campaign aiming to educate businesses, industries and the community on complying with the Australian Disability Access Regulations.

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