Trainers of Assistance Dogs Project

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Case for change

The expansion of assistance dogs into fields covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other health streams has brought an increasing demand for greater regulation and skilled delivery of assistance animal training.

This project will capture the skills required for animal trainers to specialise in Assistance Dog Training and embed these in units of competency and existing qualifications.

The need for this project emerged as part of consultation for the Pet Care & Animal Training Project in 2020. Stakeholders identified lengthy waiting lists for assistance dogs, but a shortage of adequately trained candidates, as well as potential future changes to state-based and NDIS licensing and regulation requirements which would require assistant dog trainers to potentially obtain formal credentials.

Accredited training, that utilises national units and qualifications, will support existing regulation and alleviate concerns associated with non-accredited trainers. It will also support the training and skills system to meet the high demand for assistance dogs, alleviate welfare concerns, and ensure readiness for changing regulatory environments.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2021 Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast (see pages 47-51).

The Animal Care and Management Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project as part of their responsibility to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure the project meets industry stakeholder needs.

Skills Impact will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 47-51)

 

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Project Plan

Growing evidence and awareness for how assistance animals can improve the quality of life for people with disabilities is driving demand for more assistance dog trainers. It is a job role with one of the highest projected growth rates to 2024 which, at 10.5%, means there will be over 2,000 new entrants to the industry. Assistance dog trainers need to be skilled at working with both the dog and individuals with disabilities. It takes considerable investment to train an assistant dog, and not for profit organisations such as Assistance Dogs Australia and Guide Dogs Australia have waiting lists of over two years. For this reason, many people are turning to independent dog trainers. It is important that people undertaking this work are adequately skilled, to support higher success rates, a better return on investment and wellbeing outcomes for the dog and client.

The expansion of assistance dogs into fields covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other health streams has brought an increasing demand for greater regulation and skilled delivery of assistance animal training. There are also widespread calls by industry for nationally recognised training to ensure workers possess the core skills to prepare dogs for a variety of purposes and client needs.

Assistance dogs are now supporting an expanding range of disabilities and impairments (e.g., epilepsy, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, mental ill-health, mobility and hearing and sight impairments). Trainers need to be skilled at training the dog to be ready for different environments and tasks, as well as training the client in how to care for their dog. They need knowledge in canine behaviour, breed, characteristics, health and welfare, as well as the impacts of different disabilities that their clients have. They must also understand applicable legislation, risk management strategies, and public and workplace health and safety guidelines.

National skills standards will support industry in their efforts to have greater input, leadership and oversight into the training processes and accreditation for assistance dog trainers.

Project Scope

This project proposes to develop up to 13 new units of competency and 2 new skill sets to address the skills required for animal trainers to specialise in Assistance Dog Training. The units could be included as a specialisation in the existing qualification (Certificate IV in Animal Behaviour and Training).

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates. Make sure to select ‘Animal Care and Management’ as your industry of interest on the subscription form.

Relevant Occupation

Assistant Dog Trainer

Timeline

July-August 2021
Initial scoping

September-October 2021
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

November-December 2021
Drafts available for broad consultation

February 2022
Validation of final drafts

March 2022
Finalisation of Training Package components

April 2022
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

April 2022
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

Project Team
Danni McDonaldIndustry Skills Standards Portfolio Manager traindogs.project@skillsimpact.com.au
Diana McNaughtonIndustry Engagement Manager diana@skillsimpact.com.au
Anna HendersonIndustry Skills Standard Contractor
Opportunities for stakeholder input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in November 2021, and again for validation of final drafts in February 2022. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the units.

It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The units need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work with assistance dogs or in the disability sector, Skills Impact appreciates your input and assistance.

Please register your interest in project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link. Alternatively, contact the project team on traindogs.project@skillsimpact.com.auor 03 9321 3526.

N.B. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Webinars will be held to replace the face-to-face consultation workshops Skills Impact would usually host around Australia.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project based on their industry role, size or specialty. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations to seek their involvement and views on all draft skill sets and units. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list, they have simply been identified as the most, likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.

  • Animal Care Australia
  • Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities
  • Animal Therapies Ltd
  • Assistance Dogs Australia
  • Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, Inc
  • Australian Support Dogs, inc
  • Australian Veterinary Association
  • Canine Essentials Pty. Ltd
  • Canine helpers for the Disabled inc
  • Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs of Australia
  • Delta
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Empower Dogs
  • Good Dog AAI
  • Graceful Dog Training
  • Guide Dogs Australia
  • Guide Dogs VIC/TAS, SA/NT, NSW/ACT
  • Guide Dogs WA (Western Australia) – Visability
  • Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs (Qld Gov)
  • Helping Paws Service Dog Training
  • In the Paws of Angels Inc
  • Integra Service Dogs Australia Ltd
  • K9 Assistance Australia
  • Leader Dogs for the Blind
  • MindDog
  • National Disability Insurance Agency
  • Office of the Victorian Skills Commissioner
  • Paws for Assistance
  • Personal Assistance Dog Solutions
  • Pet Industry Association of Australia
  • Pets Australia
  • Righteous Pups Australia, Inc.
  • The Royal Society for the Blind, Guide & Assistance Dog Service
  • Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia
  • Vision Australia

Development

This stage has not yet commenced

Drafts Available

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Validation

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Finalisation

This stage has not yet commenced