Companion Card Scheme for People with Disabilities

The reason for me writing this post today about Companion cards is to highlight some of the key facts to those who are either not aware of the companion card scheme or willing to apply for one due to the disability they have. I will discuss in detail and in a simple way or an all-in-one-stop information page around what this card is, who can have one, and what are the rules around it.

The department’s website has information published in a much simpler form, however; I thought to write the article below to give some more clarity/idea for our readers.


Why is the Disability Companion Card important?

When it comes to expenditures during outings, we have come across many clients with a disability, who are often confused about how will the tickets for the carer be paid, while on activities such as visiting movie theatres, parks, exhibitions, etc.

We are often asked questions as to whose responsibility it will be, to pay for the carer’s ticket. Is it the provider (very unlikely), carer themselves should arrange their ticket (highly unlikely), and/or it should be paid by the person with a disability (based on agreement terms)?


Hence, when it comes to payments for the carer, the discussion around companion cards becomes important.


What is the Disability Companion Card and who can get it?

Companion card is issued by the NSW government for those people who have a permanent lifelong disability and need intense care or support during participation in activities or at venues that charge or expects the person to pay for tickets at the entry. Certainly, the person with a disability will pay for the tickets using their funds but the idea of a companion card is to have the other person (Carer/Companion) enter the venue at no cost, removing the financial barrier for the person with a disability.

It is not a discount, benefit, or concession and hence is not subject to income or means-testing but it will allow the companion/carer to enter the venue (Affiliated Business) with no cost/charge; accompanying the person with a disability, reducing the financial burden of the person with a disability, to not have to pay for the second ticket for the carer.


Who is deemed to be a companion under this scheme?

Your carer or companion can be one of the following

  • paid or unpaid assistant or carer

  • friend

  • family member

  • partner.


How to apply for Companion Card?

Applications are assessed by State/Territory Government in Australia and hence the application can be downloaded by selecting the state/territory you live in by accessing the link here – DISABILITY COMPANION CARD APPLICATION FORM

Each state or territory regulator has their phone number listed for any queries one may have and, should one wish to discuss it with a person over the phone, before making the application.


Eligibility for Companion Card

Eligibility criteria to get this card is quite simple and mainly reliant on your answer to the five questions (based on your situation), as below –

  • Are you an Australian Citizen, or permanent resident – hence the scheme does not consider non-residents eligible for the card?

  • Are you a person with a significant and permanent disability – Hence temporary disability is not considered as eligibility

  • Are you unable to participate at most venues or activities without a carer? – Hence if you require to be accompanied by a carer only during some activities, and the rest of the time you are fine - you may wish to give some thought to this assessment criterion.

  • If no aids or technology is useful to you and/or meets your needs, and hence it is required for you to have a carer with you all the time while participating in such venues and activities.

  • The level of attendant care you need is going to be lifelong.


If you answer yes to all the above questions, you may be eligible for a companion card.


Note that the department has specifically mentioned on their website and the application form - that being a participant under the NDIS scheme, does not guarantee your eligibility for a companion card, and each application is assessed on its own merits.


Questions within Disability Companion Card application form?


There are 7 parts within the application form referred to as Items.

Part 1 is about the personal details of the person with a disability making the application.

Part 2 is about cultural information and language preference.

Part 3 is about entering diagnosis details of the person with a disability applying. This section also expects you to attach a report against your disability claim. Make sure you attach the most recent report if possible.

Part 4 requires the applicant to express in their own words and/or demonstrate, how your disability has impacted you permanently to participate at most community events without attendant care support from your companion. Note that his part of the form is your opportunity to display your case in as much detail as you can and present examples, conditions, and other details. Considering entering the Information in a bullet style format for easy flow of information for the reader.

You can also add the contact information of any disability services you are using currently so that they can be your reference.

Part 5 is for those who live in residential facilities receiving high care. This can be completed by the service manager of the facility.

Part 6 is the Health Professional Declaration confirming the disability of the applicant and that the applicant is unable to attend to the venues or activities without a companion permanently.

Part 7 is the applicant or nominee statement - to declare the information accuracy and that information will be obtained from the relevant services or health practitioners; the applicant has specified within the form. Two-color photos are required that should go with the form (loose) with the professional signing on the form, needing to sign at the back of the photographs.


Where can I use my disability companion card?

Businesses across the state can apply to become an affiliate within this scheme. Affiliation approval means they will be accepting your companion card (providing a free ticket to your carer) upon your visit to that venue.

On the department’s webpage, a full list is available which can be downloaded by accessing the link here – AFFILIATE DATABASE NSW

Also, there is a search tool on the website, where you can enter a postcode to search for affiliate businesses in that area, who are a part of this scheme and will accept the companion cards. The postcode search button is available from the link here – AFFILIATE SEARCH BY SUBURB

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