The most common questions we get are

Welcome to the Working Animals Federation of Australia (WAFA)– where we believe in a world where all working animals, their handlers, trainers, assessors, and other professionals receive the support and recognition they deserve.

We are a social enterprise and a proud part of the Animal Welfare Union. Our mission is to provide comprehensive support and education to individuals and communities involved in the working animals sphere. This includes assistance, therapy, detection, and education animals, as well as their dedicated handlers, trainers, assessors, and other key professionals.

At the Working Animals Federation of Australia, we have a vision of a world where assistance animals no longer face discrimination and where every Australian community is aware of their rights. We envision a world where animal-assisted therapy is accessible to everyone, and these animals receive the legal recognition they deserve.

Our commitment to this vision drives us to provide essential resources, education, and advocacy for working animals and their human partners. We work tirelessly to ensure that the vital role these animals play in our society is acknowledged and respected.

At the Working Animals Federation of Australia, we take pride in our team. 

All our staff members are individuals with disabilities and lived experience. This means that we not only understand the challenges faced by our community, but we also bring a unique perspective to our work.

Our team members are not just employees; they are empowered individuals who have overcome obstacles and are now contributing their skills and expertise to our mission. Our diverse team brings a wealth of perspectives and ideas to the table, fostering creativity and innovation. We believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to thrive, and by providing meaningful employment, we’re creating tangible change in the lives of individuals in our community.

Our steering committee will not be announced until early 2024, but in the interim if you contact us you may speak with Angie, Tatum or Jackyleen our admin team and social media gurus.

​​Our ABN and business name are suppressed in line with relevant laws that require our founder’s identity to be withheld for her personal safety and due to ongoing threats.

WAFA was initially established by an industry expert, however is operating as a collective of experts who form the Governing Body. We operate under the following:


Professional Standards*

Code of Conduct*

Code of Ethics*

Code of Practice*

*These are under review by our steering committee, with the latest version to be released to the public in early 2024

Our official Governing Body will be announced in 2024, when we officially open to the public.

We are a social enterprise, and therefore have the freedom to operate in a number of sectors, working with a range of experts including:

Disability experts

Animal trainers and breeders

Educational professionals

Therapy and assistance trainers

Allied health professionals

Compliance and Governance professionals

Category specific (e.g. guide, hearing, detection) handlers

Our 2024 – 2029 Strategic Plan will be released to the public in early 2024.

At the Working Animals Federation of Australia, we take pride in pioneering advancements that promote the safety and well-being of working animals and their handlers, while also fostering harmonious relationships within our communities.

Our Holistic Public Access Test (H-PAT) has been meticulously developed based on globally recognised standards set forth by ADI (Assistance Dogs International),, IGDF (International Guide Dog Federation) and GHAD. Additionally, between 2018 and 2023, WAFA conducted extensive research to further enhance the PAT. These enhancements have been designed to elevate the safety of both assistance dogs and their handlers, as well as the communities they serve.

The PAT has undergone a robust validation process that includes three sets of peer reviews and has been opened for public consultation. We’ve also engaged alpha and beta testers to ensure its effectiveness and practicality in real-world scenarios.

We are thrilled to announce that the Holistic Public Access Test (PAT) will officially launch in early 2024. This groundbreaking assessment will set new standards for the industry, ensuring that assistance animals and their handlers are equipped to deliver the highest level of service and safety.

In addition to the PAT, WAFA is proud to introduce the Holistic Therapy Access Test (H-TAT), which mirrors the PAT but is specifically tailored for therapy animals. Just like the PAT, the TAT has undergone rigorous development and testing phases, including alpha and beta testing with valuable input from experts and stakeholders.

The Holistic Public Access Test (PAT) was developed based on GHAD, ADI and IGDF standards, as well as research conducted by WAFA between 2018-2023 with additions made to increase safety of ADs and handlers as well as communities. Have gone through 3 sets of peer review and been opened for public consultation. We have also run alpha and beta testers through it and will officially open in early 2024. TAT is the PAT but for TDs. We have also run alpha and beta testers through it and will officially open in early 2024.

At the Working Animals Federation of Australia, we take a comprehensive and inclusive approach to recognising animals. We believe that all animals, regardless of species or breed, can play vital roles in providing assistance and therapy when owned and used legally within relevant federal and state laws.

Our recognition extends to a wide range of animals, including but not limited to:

Assistance Animals:

  1. Dogs
  2. Cats
  3. Parrots
  4. Geese
  5. Miniature Horses
  6. Pigs

Therapy Animals:

  1. Cats
  2. Chickens
  3. Rodents
  4. Dogs
  5. Horses
  6. Goats
  7. Cows

Please note that our recognition is not limited to the specific species listed above. We acknowledge and support the use of any species or breed as long as it complies with all relevant federal and state laws. We are committed to promoting the responsible and ethical use of animals for assistance and therapy purposes.


There are specific exceptions to our accreditation policy:

  1. We will not register an animal listed by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) or other international or national lists as endangered, or are otherwise prohibited. For example, we will not register a native (e.g. possum) or exotic (e.g. primate) species as these species cannot be legally owned by individuals within Australia. 
  1. We may refrain from registering certain breeds, species or individuals if their use is deemed unethical, poses a potential safety concern, or is otherwise problematic. Our commitment to the welfare of animals and the safety of communities guides our decisions in these cases. For example, we will not register prohibited breeds of dogs or declared dangerous or menacing dogs. 

At WAFA, our primary goal is to ensure that animals are worked ethically, responsibly, and safely to benefit individuals and communities. We are dedicated to fostering a harmonious relationship between animals, their handlers, and the wider community while upholding legal and ethical standards.

As an independent organisation, the Working Animals Federation of Australia (WAFA) is not a government agency, and our accreditation system is not an official government program.

While WAFA may not have official government recognition, we are working towards establishing a nationally recognisable symbol for working animals which holds substantial legitimacy within the community and industry. 

The fact that some states and territories are considering adopting our system is a positive sign of recognition and potential acceptance within the broader community. It suggests that our standards and practices are seen as valuable and align with the goals of promoting the well-being of assistance and therapy animals.

Australian law does not require an assistance or therapy animal to be registered or accredited by any government or non-government body. 

Similar to state- or territory-based accreditation in Australia, participation in WAFA’s recognition system is entirely voluntary.

The primary legal requirement governing assistance animals in Australia is the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).  Compliance with the DDA is mandatory. Some states and territories offer optional recognition schemes.  

WAFA serves as an optional opportunity for individuals, handlers, and organisations who aim to excel in their standards beyond the basic legal requirements. It offers a way for those who want to meet the highest available standards of training, behaviour, and professionalism to do so voluntarily.

One of the advantages of WAFA’s system is that it operates at the national level, providing a consistent standard across the country, rather than being restricted to a specific state or territory. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals and organisations that operate across different regions of Australia.

As a free member, you receive the following benefits:

Access to the moderated social media group

Free courses

Free resources

As a paid member, you get additional resources, including:

Use of our logo

Additional education and professional resources

Access to additional programs, for example community educator and education programs*

*some of these incur an additional one-off fee, please contact us for more information

Our expects also offer additional services, such as advocacy, consultation and individual guidance, however, this is managed on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for more information, if you require these services.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is responsible for advising airlines on the carriage of assistance animals in Australia. 

WAFA is currently working with CASA and various airlines to ensure carriage of WAFA accredited assistance animals in the future. 

Learn more here:


Accessing the Assistance Animal Ambassador Program can be done following these steps: 

– Start by becoming a member of the Working Animals Federation of Australia (WAFA) for free. Membership provides access to various resources, including the AD Ambassador Course.

– Once you are a registered member, log in to your WAFA account.

– Navigate to the AD Ambassador Course section or registration page.

– As a WAFA member and course participant, you gain access to free resources. These resources may include educational materials, guides, and templates related to assistance animals.

– WAFA offers a valuable resource for its members: access cards outlining current federal law for assistance dog access. You can apply for up to 10 of these cards.

– These cards are useful for members of the public who may challenge your access rights while accompanied by an assistance dog. They help educate others about your rights under the law.

– WAFA provides its members with a free logo and certificate as part of the AD Ambassador program.

– These assets can help you promote your commitment to assistance dog advocacy and education on social media. 

– After completing the AD Ambassador Course, you can play a crucial role in educating businesses and organisations about assistance dog access rights.

– Encourage local businesses to take the course to ensure they are aware of the law and can provide the proper accommodations to individuals with assistance dogs.

Accreditation with the Working Animals Federation of Australia is a prestigious recognition reserved for current individuals working within the assistance animal and animal-assisted therapy industry. This accreditation program is distinct from membership and is designed to ensure that individuals and organisations meet and maintain the highest professional standards.

Accreditation is open to individuals and organisations actively involved in the assistance animal and animal-assisted therapy industry. It is designed for those who are committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. To pursue accreditation, you must first be a member of the WAFA. 

The accreditation process is based on the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) course, ensuring that accredited individuals and organisations have a strong foundation in the field. In addition to the ASQA course, accreditation involves meeting additional requirements, which may include:

– Submitting policies and procedures related to your field of work.

– Demonstrating qualifications and certifications such as mental health and senior first aid, animal first aid, and other relevant training.

– Obtaining a Working with Children Check (WWCC) and undergoing police checks for individuals involved in the industry.

– Completing a skillset specific to assistance animals and animal-assisted therapy.

– Successfully completing in-house theory and practical assessments to showcase your expertise.

Accredited individuals and organisations enjoy several benefits, including:

– Listing on WAFA’s Website: Accredited entities are featured on WAFA’s website, increasing their visibility within the industry and to the public.

– Use of Logos: Accredited entities have the privilege of using WAFA’s public access and therapy access logos, signifying their adherence to high professional standards.

– Enhanced Credibility: Accreditation with WAFA enhances your credibility and demonstrates your commitment to excellence in the field.

Recognition: Being accredited by WAFA signals to clients, partners, and stakeholders that you meet the organisation’s rigorous standards.”

We have specifically split membership and accreditation as individuals then have access to multiple accreditation systems if they so choose, and individuals can also become members and support our work without completing accreditations if they choose. The one-off cost for accreditation covers the cost of our staff to assess the submission and provide feedback. There is no additional cost should the first submission be unsuccessful. 

There are no hidden fees, although there are costs involved in completing some requirements such as Certificate 4 Animal Behaviour and training through an RTO which is mandatory for trainers.

As a starting point, you will need to be assessed as to whether your disability meets the definition provided by Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). Your animal will also need to meet the criteria given by Section 9(2)(c) of this legislation.  Some States and Territories have their own legislation, which individuals can work under, however the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) can be applied to all states and territories.


Most assistance animals and their handlers complete a Public Access Test (PAT) at the end of their training which identifies that the team has met these requirements. Although this is not currently a legal requirement, it is considered to be best practice and is highly recommended. Please note that the quality of any PAT is dependent upon both the person who authored the test and the person assessing the test. As such, the quality of such tests varies greatly. 


We understand that assistance animals can be a difficult realm to navigate, so we have developed a free short course which outlines these requirements in detail. 


Please visit our Assistance Animals Ambassador Program which can be accessed through our free membership option. 

Assistance animals can accompany their handler in all locations that members of the public can go which includes (but is not limited to) hospitals, rentals, hotels, public transport, universities, schools, supermarkets and restaurants. 


However, assistance animals are unable to attend sterile surgical environments, quarantine facilities and food preparation areas. 


Some states and territories offer a transport pass for assistance animals to be able to accompany their handler on public transport. Although this is not legally required to be held, it is highly recommended to help you to navigate public access with ease.


We understand that assistance animals can be a difficult realm to navigate, so we have developed a free short course that outlines these requirements in detail. 


Please visit our Assistance Animals Ambassador Program which can be accessed through our free membership option.