AUTISTIC NICK GETS A COMPANION CARD
A few weeks ago, I filled out an application to receive what they call a companion card. But what I hear you ask is a companion card?
The Companion Card
The Companion Card is for people with a significant and permanent disability, who require attendant care support in order to participate at community venues and activities are always going to need a high level of care to get to community-based activities. Cardholders present their card when booking or purchasing a ticket from a participating business. Participating businesses will recognise the Companion Card and issue the cardholder with a second ticket for their companion at no charge.
How do I apply for one?
Applying for A Companion Card
Applying for a Companion Card is easy. Simply download the application form here and follow the instructions on the front page.
Your service provider, health professional, legal guardian or agent may assist you to complete the form. Please ensure you complete all relevant sections as incomplete applications cannot be assessed. Applicants must supply two colour photographs of passport quality with their application.
Return your completed form to:
Companion Card Applications Reply Paid 184 Northbridge WA 6865
Please allow approximately 20 working days for processing (may increase during peak periods).
Note: Given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 there may be delays in processing new Companion Card applications. To assist us to respond quicker, you can email your application if you are able. Please contact us if you have any questions about submitting your application. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.
As part of the assessment process the people involved in your application may be contacted for additional information.
Applications will be assessed against the four eligibility criteria.
Completion of an application form does not guarantee a Companion Card will be issued.
For further information or to request a hard copy of the Companion Card brochure or Application form please call the WA Free call Information Line on 1800 617 337 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can download a PDF version of the application form here http://www.wacompanioncard.org.au/images/WACompanioncard/files/cc-apply-compressed.pdf
Or a word document version here http://www.wacompanioncard.org.au/images/WACompanioncard/files/Accessible_CC_Application_Form_June_2020.docx
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an age restriction when applying for a Companion Card?
Companion Cards are less likely to be issued to children under five years of age. The Companion Card Program is all about ‘fair ticketing’. This means that, to use a Companion Card, the person with disability (cardholder) must be of an age where they are charged an entry fee.
It must also be demonstrated that the person with disability has a lifelong need for a carer in the community and meets the eligibility criteria. This means that if a child’s condition is subject to improvement and there is a likelihood that the child will be an independent adult then a Companion Card will not be issued.
Some children may require two attendant carers (for example, a parent and a support worker) in order to participate in events and activities. Please contact us if you would like to discuss an application for a child under five years of age.
I can attend most places by myself but find some venues are difficult because of their accessibility. Should I apply for a card to use at these venues?
No. The Companion Card was not developed to overcome or compensate for any particular venue’s lack of accessibility, including the absence of ramps, lifts or accessible toilets. Responsibility for these access issues remains with venue and activity operators. You may be able to contact these operators directly to discuss your requirements.
What If My Condition Is Episodic?
The Companion Card program will consider applications from people whose conditions are episodic (for example, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia, etc.) on a case by case basis.
A card will only be issued if a companion is needed in most circumstances and support needs cannot be managed by treatment, medication, aids, etc.
Please provide information in your application about the type and frequency of episodes, the residual effects and details about any proposed treatment options.
I feel better if I have a companion to support me in the community. Should I apply for a Card?
Companion Cards are for people with disability who require their companion to assist with things like mobility, self-care or communication over and above the use of aids and equipment.
If you are able to do these things independently with aids and equipment but prefer to be supported by someone, then you may not be eligible for a Companion Card.
I work full time. Does this prevent me from receiving a companion card?
No. There is no income or assets test and people may apply irrespective of employment or financial status.
Can somebody else complete the application on my behalf?
Yes, anyone can complete the form on your behalf or assist you. However, the information entered is still about you. If someone does assist you, please include their contact details in the application.
How are applicants assessed for a Companion Card?
Companion Card WA assessors are allied health professionals who are able to determine eligibility for a Companion Card.
The assessment process is a functional assessment of community access skills. The process is person-centred, individualised and case by case. The assessor gathers information from the person with disability, their carer(s) and treating health professionals to determine eligibility.
What supporting information does the assessor require with the application to make an informed decision?
You are encouraged to provide any relevant supporting information such as contact details of support services (e.g. day programs, respite services), copies of current reports from treating health professionals (e.g. treating specialist(s), psychologist, speech therapist, physiotherapist, paediatrician, occupational therapist, registered nurse or social worker) plus any further information that you feel demonstrates the eligibility criteria.
I am going on a Holiday, can I use my companion card interstate?
Yes. The Companion Card is recognised at affiliates listed throughout Australia. Visit http://www.companioncard.gov.au for registered affiliates throughout Australia.
Where can I use my companion card?
To find out where you can use your Companion Card search the current list of WA Affiliates under your specified category “Where can I use my card”.
How long will my card last?
A Companion Card is valid for five years from the date it is issued. This renewal period is based on:
- the physical life expectancy (wear and tear) of the card;
- the requirement for photographs to be updated to remain reflective of the cardholder’s appearance; and
- the potential for change in the support requirements for some cardholders.
A renewal form will be posted 6 weeks prior to the expiry date on your Companion Card. To ensure you receive your renewal before your Companion Card expires please keep your address details updated.
Please call the WA Companion Card Program on 1800 617 337 or email email@example.com if you have not received your renewal or if you would like to update your address details.
What happens if my card is lost or stolen?
You should contact the WA companion card team on Free call 1800 617 337 who will go through the process to arrange a replacement card. You can request a replacement card if:
- you lose your Companion Card;
- your Companion Card is stolen or damaged;
- you change your name; or
- your photograph needs to be updated.
What happens if I change my name?
To change the name on your Companion Card because you have recently been married or divorced, or if you have changed your name by Deed Poll, you will need to provide evidence that your name has been legally changed. Please send a copy of supporting documentation (such as a marriage certificate) to the WA Companion Card Program. A replacement card will be posted to you.
Update your information or moving interstate?
It is important to keep your personal contact details up to date so you can be contacted when your card is due for renewal.
Please call the Companion Card Program on 1800 617 337 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to provide your change of address and contact details.
If you are moving interstate it is important you contact the Companion Card Program from the state where your card was issued. You will need to provide consent for your Companion Card documents to be transferred to the Companion Card Program in your new state of residence.
How to cancel a companion card?
Where a change in circumstances means that a cardholder is no longer eligible for a Companion Card (e.g. the cardholder has passed away, there is a change in the medical condition of the cardholder or they have moved interstate) a card may be cancelled by phoning 1800 617 337 or email email@example.com.
What if I don’t qualify?
The Companion Card is not for every person with a disability. There may be circumstances where an individual may use the support of a companion but will not qualify to receive a Companion Card.
- when a person is experiencing temporary impairment;
- where the need for attendant care support is not lifelong;
- when a person is affected by the inaccessibility of a particular venue;
- when a person chooses to have a companion to provide social company or reassurance; or
- when a person chooses to have a companion rather than use available aids, equipment or alternative strategies to access a venue or activity.
In situations such as these, it is up to the individual and the venue or activity operators to negotiate an alternative method to verify the need for attendant care support.
Who qualifies to be a Companion?
A companion can be a family member, friend or carer/support worker. Your companion could be anyone who provides essential attendant care support to you as the companion card holder. Your companion does not have to be the same person each time.
What If I need 2 carers to support me at a venue/event?
The Companion card program typically allows for one companion to accompany the Companion Card holder. Where a cardholder has a requirement for more than one companion, this must be negotiated by the cardholder with the venue/ activity operator at the time of booking.
To find where in Australia you can apply and use your companion card click the link here
www.companioncard.gov.au or here in your State *please note links are correct as of Jan 1st 2021*
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
For places that accept the companion card in WA please click on this link for the PDF version
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
Do you have a companion card?
Let me know about your experiences in the comments section below
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.