Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to ‘Equality’ and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including people with disabilities, among others.
Most people recognise the good work that organisations such as Guide Dogs do, however, there is still a lot of negativity surrounding people who suffer from mental illness and very little recognition of how psychiatric assistance dogs can improve the lives of these people.
The rights of a person with an Assistance Dog are protected under Federal Law through the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA 1992). The DDA allows qualified Assistance Dogs to accompany their handler into all public spaces.
However, when these people, take their assistance dogs in public, the general public aren’t necessarily aware of this fact and cause these people to be discriminated against on a daily basis.
To help fight this inequality, Pat Dogs Australia, assists those who are disabled through mental Illness to procure, train and certify psychiatric assistance dogs. This can be a new dog, a rescue dog or even a person’s existing dog (assuming they have the right temperament). We also try to create awareness of psychiatric assistance dogs and advocate for their handlers public access rights.
Psychiatric assistance dogs are trained to reduce the impact of specific symptoms for people living with mental illness and improve their overall quality of life. They also allowed them access to travel on public transport, access public places and take part in social activities with their assistance dog, and hence allows them access to aspects of society which have been historically closed off to them.
How you can help is, if you come across someone with an assistance dog out in public, treat them respectfully, treat them just like anyone else who doesn’t have an assistance dog and remember not to distract the dog as it is working.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health disorder and feel an assistance dog could help. Please like and share this article and contact Pat Dogs Australia Limited for more information. www.patdogs.org.au
If you or someone you know are currently in crisis please call Lifeline on 13 11 14
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