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14th June 2021 initial contact made with Minister Hunt followed up by:

TravelPaws letter to The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Australian Minister for Health

30th June 2021

The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Australian Minister for Health

Dear Minister Hunt,

I am contacting you to clarify the hotel quarantine policy in our country for people (Handlers) with Assistance Dogs.

Our information tells us that Australian Handlers are keen to travel interstate. However, they are reluctant to do so without certainty of what would happen to them and their dogs in a snap border closure situation which necessitated a 2-week hotel quarantine lockdown. I talk about the safety of dog toileting in a quarantine hotel facility for the dog, the Handler and other hotel clientele. I would appreciate any information you could provide for clarity.

I am aware that purpose-built quarantine facilities will be a part of our future in Australia. My interest is not only for COVID-19, but in any emergency in which Handlers may find themselves. I seek clarification that Handlers’ needs will be considered when building these facilities.

Paul Metcalf, Guide Dogs Manager (Guide Dogs Victoria) and former Chairman, International Guide Dog Federation, had added his support to this key initiative as he understands the importance of independent travel and, given the current limitations and restrictions placed upon both international and domestic movement.

Key to this, Paul suggests, is ensuring that transition for people who are blind or have low vision as they travel with their guide dogs are appropriately catered for in any quarantine facilities – this especially includes exercise and relief areas that meet the individual needs of the dogs. This point is of course pertinent to other Assistance Dog types  (hearing dog or medical alert/PTSD/mobility/autism assist or other Assistance Dog).

TravelPaws also represents members in 16 countries so I would be keen to know what the policy is for International Handler arrivals as well.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours Sincerely

Nina Smith

TravelPaws Founder & Director

29th July 2021 Response from Carolyn Paterson, Assistant Secretary to The Honourable Greg Hunt

Dear Ms Smith

Thank you for your correspondence of 30 June 2021 to the Minister for Health and Aged
Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, regarding hotel quarantine policy for guide dog handlers. The
Minister has asked me to reply.
The Minister and Department of Health acknowledge the challenges associated with
completing quarantine and agree that consideration should be given to the safety of
assistance dogs and their handlers. As such, the Minister has asked the Australian Health
Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to urgently consider this matter.
The AHPPC provides expert advice in relation to national quarantine policy and as part of
that advice, it publishes National Principles for Managed Quarantine (the Principles) which
set nationally agreed benchmarks. The Principles highlight the importance of equipping
facilities with resources allocated to support those with disabilities, the elderly, and the
infirm. Work is underway to consider additional guidance in relation to assistance dogs, as a
matter of priority.
Once finalised, advice will be published as an updated AHPPC statement on the Department
of Health website. In line with the Principles, any future purpose-built quarantine facility
would consider the needs of individuals with disabilities during the design and planning
phase of development.
In the meantime, should quarantine accommodation not meet the needs of individuals with
medical or compassionate circumstances, such as those with assistance dogs, they are
encouraged to apply for an exemption through the relevant state or territory, who will
consider requests on a case by case basis. Individuals may be granted an exemption to
complete their quarantine duration in their home environment.
The exemption process is primarily a matter for state and territory governments as each
jurisdiction is responsible for managing the COVID-19 response under its public health
legislation. However, as per public health best practice, all states and territories adhere to
the expert medical advice of the AHPPC and its expert sub-committees.

Thank you for writing. 

Yours sincerely 

Carolyn Paterson 

Assistant Secretary 

Office of Health Protection and Response Division 29th July 2021

Nina's Response from TravelPaws 5th August 2021:

I am disappointed the AHPPC have not considered this matter to date. The ‘exemption to complete quarantine duration in their home environment’ does not resolve the issue for interstate travelling Handlers. I trust the AHPPC will also deal with this matter.

At any rate, I will post this correspondence to our members.

Yours Sincerely

Nina Smith

TravelPaws Founder & Director