The Hon. T.T. NGO (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Human Services. What representation has the minister made to her federal counterpart concerning guide dog funding through the NDIS, given that I am told fewer than five guide dogs have been approved through the NDIS funding since the scheme's inception?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:56): I thank the honourable member for his question and for his interest in this area. Clearly, guide dogs and assistance dogs are very important to people who utilise them. My understanding with assistance dogs is that they do take considerable resources to train. I have a friend who had a puppy and she was one of the—I'm not quite sure what the terminology is, but she took the dog when it was a puppy, in terms of socialising it, then it goes into the training program. Sadly, Monty missed out.
The requirements for guide dogs and assistance dogs are quite high. They need to be of a certain temperament and they need to learn certain skills because clearly, for the people who rely on them, it's potentially a safety issue for them if the dogs don't respond appropriately at the appropriate time. So a lot of time and effort goes into ensuring that assistance dogs are up to the correct standards, and there's a process in terms of accreditation through the Dog and Cat Management Board.
I have had this issue raised with me, and in response I have written to the responsible minister (the Hon. Paul Fletcher) and raised concerns with him in relation to what has been reported to me as a relatively low number of assistance dogs being approved through the NDIS in South Australia. I am awaiting a response.