La Trobe University completed a study ‘NDIS participant-trained assistance dogs (DOCX)‘ in relation to the training of assistance dogs. Based on these findings the NDIA will generally not provide funding for a dog before it has become a qualified assistance animal.
The study found:
- not all dogs who undertake training go on to successfully qualify as an assistance animal; and
- there is no reliable way to predict if a particular dog will successfully qualify as an assistance animal before it has completed its training.
Therefore, it is unlikely the dog will meet the following reasonable and necessary criteria:
- the support represents value for money, in that the costs of the support are reasonable, relative to both the benefits achieved and the cost of alternate support (34(1)(c));
As it is not possible to guarantee the dog will successfully complete the training, the value for money criteria will not be met.
- the support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice (34 (1) (d)); or
As the dog may not complete training the NDIA is unable to state the animal will be beneficial or effective as the dog may not address the participant’s functional impairments.
- the funding or provision of the support takes into account of what is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and community to provide (34 (1) (e)).
Funding a dog that has not successfully completed assistance animal training is no different to providing a companion animal (e.g. pet). It is reasonable to expect that individuals/families would self-fund a companion animal.
Based on this evidence, the NDIS does not provide funding for a participant to train their own dog to be an assistance animal. This also applies if a registered assistance animal provider is engaged to train the dog, as not all dogs go on to successfully qualify as an assistance animal.
For the same reasons, the NDIS does not fund a provider to supply a dog as an NDIS support until they are fully trained and qualified assistance animals.