Admit Two: Australian Companion Card scheme up and running

picture of Australian companion card sample, next to an ADMIT TWO ticketThe Australian Government officially launched the national Companion Card scheme around six weeks ago.

The Companion Card enables some people with disabilities to participate at venues and activities without incurring the cost of a second ticket for a carer. If a PWD requires an attendant in order to participate in the event or access the location, the ticket for their companion is free. Before the scheme came into being, people who had service animals could legally take them anywhere without extra payment, but people who had human carers had to pay extra. How did that make sense?

Who can qualify for a Companion Card? In my state (definitions are very similar state to state), the care-needs eligibility definition is:

Attendant care support includes significant assistance with mobility, communication, self-care, or learning, planning and thinking, where the use of aids, equipment or alternative strategies do not enable the person to carry out these tasks. It does not include providing only reassurance, social company or encouragement.

The definition also requires that the need for support be considered life-long, though the rationale behind this is not explained. There is no income test.

There is an additional note to participating businesses warning them not to use this as an excuse for poor accessibility:

The Companion Card was not developed to overcome or compensate for any particular venue’s lack of accessibility; including the absence of ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, appropriate signage or captioning, etc. Responsibility for these access issues remains with venue and activity operators.

There are currently 2700 affiliate organisations participating in the National Companion Card. So far the participants include the Melbourne public transport system, major sporting leagues and venues, various cinemas, Circus OZ, Fitness First Australia, Circus Royale, The Australian Ballet, Musica Viva, The Australian Rugby Union, and many smaller sporting and cultural venues and organisations.

This is a terrific idea, and one that needs to be adopted in more countries. It would also be good if Australian extends the scheme to temporary passes for tourists in the future; right now, you need to be a resident.

What’s the situation where you are? If you need human assistance in order to participate in the life of your community, do you need to fork out cash for an extra ticket?

5 Comments

  1. Most places in the UK
    will allow carers in for free – at least, this has always been my experience. Certainly theatres etc will do this, and I think movie theatres as well. I’m not sure how stringently ‘carer’ is defined her though.

    My father is disabled, and people will uually just let me go with him if we are together (for example, in Disneyland Paris, when we went to see a film exhibit, he was allowed tgo to a eparate area next to the main queue, which had seating, so he could wait, in comfort. I was pretty impressed by that – more so, as we then basically got in first! Felt a little guilty as I am in no way his carer, but it would have sucked to have gone in separately on what was supposed to be a fun thing for us to do together.

    Apologies, I felt this was an interesting topic, but am not actually disabled myself, so have large gaps in my knwledge – just the experience of going places with my dad.

  2. this is a really awesome idea! i’m so glad this is available. now if we could only get something similar happening in the US. ha!

  3. In my experience, companion-type fares/admissions are hit and miss. Although the last time we were able to take advantage of this – at the Multicultural Festival – the ticket taker decided the correct way to deal was to baby talk to Don when giving him his arm band. *sigh*

  4. We do have a companion card system for the Dutch transportation system, but not for cultural or community activities. I own the transportation companion card, so I can choose whom to accompany me for free. However, you do have to get the card renwed every three years to make sure you still qualify. Quite stupid given tha tmy disabilities are lifelong.

  5. The idea is fantastic, though judging by the comments, not so great in execution. I will definitely lobby for this at my school