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Australian Companion Card – free admission for carers

Although I’m sure many of our readers are familiar with the Australian Companion Card I wanted to share information for anyone who is new to needing disability services and to remind those who have one of some of the places you can use it.

The Australian Companion Card promotes the rights of people with a disability, who require a companion, to fair ticketing at events and venues. It’s a National program which is managed by the individual states in Australia. The Companion Card is for people with significant permanent disability who can demonstrate that due to the impact of the disability they are unable to attend most community activities or events without attendant care, and that need is life-long. Braeden has had a companion card for many years and it has saved us a lot of money both when we are travelling and when he accesses the community with the help of a support worker.

So I thought I would show you a few ways we’ve used the Companion Card.

SHOWS

Live shows are expensive. In the holidays Braeden went to see Brainiacs at the Sydney Opera House with his support worker. He loved the show and his support worker received a complimentary admission.

Most theatres and shows accept the Companion Card. The only show we’ve found doesn’t accept it, is Disney on Ice.

Even periodic events like Sydney Festival accepts the Companion Card.

ATTRACTIONS & TRAVEL

Most attractions seem to recognise and accept the Companion Card. Zoos, museums and tourist attractions usually take it, but remember it’s a voluntary affiliation, attractions don’t have to participate.

Braeden recently bought an annual Merlin Pass which covers Sea Life Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney, Sydney Tower and more. He received a companion Merlin Annual pass to go with it so anyone accompany him also receives free entry.

The companion card gave us one free adult entry to the Gold Coast theme parks.

When we purchased a special needs dolphin experience for Braeden at Sea World Hubby went for free as his companion.

Travelling from Hamilton Island to Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays we were surprised and happy to find they accepted the Companion Card.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Braeden loves taking public transport and regularly uses it when he’s out with a support worker.

We got Braeden a pensioner/concession Opal Card so he travels at a discounted rate and with his Companion Card, whoever is with him goes free.

You can read about getting a pensioner/concession Opal Card here.

NATIONAL PARKS

When visiting Byron Bay Lighthouse recently we were reminded that NSW National Parks accept the Companion Card for free entry into their National Parks. Visitors need to present their Companion Card at the park entry stations and a free ticket will be issued. At parks with pay and display, or self-registration, the National Parks ask visitors to leave their Companion Card on the dashboard. We have done this and found it ruins the laminate of the Companion Card. To avoid ruining Braeden’s Companion Card we will be applying for a NPWS exemption card. This card is available to pensioner Concession Card holders and EDA, Intermediate and Special Rate (blinded, TPI and TTI) pensioners. You can read about it here.

A FEW OF MY PICKS

If you’ve had a Companion Card for a while like Braeden, it’s probably a good idea to take another look at the affiliates in your state. While researching this blog I was taking another look myself and I was surprised to see many aquatic centres and local pools accept the Companion Card as well as Fitness First gyms. AAC Airport Express also caught my eye for airport transfers (though I’m unsure if they have accessible vehicles). Braeden is a regular movie-goer so he uses his card all the time at local cinemas and for exhibitions at the city museums.

STATE BY STATE

Each state has affiliate offers with local attractions. Not all who accept the Companion Card appear on the list, so don’t be afraid to ask as you travel.

TRAVELLING OVERSEAS

The Companion Card is only officially recognised in Australia however when we travelled we took it with us. I contacted many attractions in advance and asked if they had a discounted, or similar arrangement and sent a copy of Braeden’s companion card. We found many emailed in return that they would accept it. We then travelled with those emails and presented them to the ticket booth at the attraction. Not all would accept it so keep in mind it is up to the discretion of the attraction but it is worthwhile asking.

We were looking at booking an Animals in Action Experience at San Diego Zoo so before we travelled I contacted the zoo to enquire if there was any discount for companions and found that one carer could get their pass for free. This was a significant saving and once again showed it’s worth asking.

APPLYING FOR A COMPANION CARD

The Companion Card is free and an application can be downloaded online. You do need to provide two passport size photos with the application.

NSW Companion Card application can be found here.

WA Companion Card application can be found here.

SA Companion Card application can be found here.

VIC Companion Card application can be found here.

QLD Companion Card application can be found here.

We’d love to hear where you use your Companion Card. Pop any tips in comments below or over on Facebook.

 




21 thoughts on “Australian Companion Card – free admission for carers”

  1. Thanks Julie – another great article. I have only recently held a Companion Card and have, so far, found it accepted at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne and Princess Theatre. Even though you can’t book online using the card it is a great saving at Village Cinema too.

    Reply
    • Thanks Leanne. The last great booking frontier seems to be booking online with Companion Cards. No-one seems set up for it. I’m sure it will come in the future and in the meantime it’s great to hear you are getting out and about thanks to the card.

      Reply
  2. Hi – yes I have one of those cards and my husband is my companion most times – but I can take anyone .In Queensland The OUTBACK EXperience used to take it but said not last time I tried . Swimming pools usually take it as well. It is a wonderful help when you want to get put and about as we have so many other extra expenses when we have a ‘diffabiity’

    Reply
  3. anybody got any info as to where on the gold coast?tweed heads companion card is accepted. So disappointed to find out that the Outback Spectacular doesn’t take it. I thought R.M. Williams would have been on board.
    I know Seaworld accepts it. I am looking for venues to take my elderly father. He is terminal and needs wheelchair assist. I have been granted a companion card but am at a loss where to start looking.

    Reply
    • Hi Chrissie, I’m so surprised Outback Spectacular wouldn’t accept the Companion Card. It’s part of the Sea World, Movie World group. I’d be inclined to double check that maybe with the guest services department. Here’s a list of affiliates of the Companion Card (but this doesn’t mean others don’t accept it so always ask) http://www.companioncard.gov.au/cardholders_where.htm I hope you and your Dad have a wonderful holiday. Julie

      Reply
  4. Can someone travelling in Australia from overseas obtain a companion card? I am from Canada and will be travelling in Australia at the beginning of March

    Reply
    • Hi Marilyn Unfortunately it’s only available to Australian citizens. I’d suggest bringing any concession card you have with you. For expensive attractions, you could contact them in advance and let them know you are travelling from overseas and don’t have a companion card but wondering if they’d extend the same concession to you. I know it’s extra effort but for some places it will save you quite a bit money. Good luck Julie

      Reply
  5. My daughter is vision impaired & has a companion card issued in Nsw, we are traveling to the nt next month & was wondering if her card can be used in nt.

    Reply
    • Hi Carole, Yes, you can use it there. It’s the Australian Companion Card but issued by individual states. Have a lovely time in the NT.
      Julie

      Reply
  6. My god daughter loves jason derulo and disney on ice. Her mama was able to let her experience these outings thanks to the companion card. I understand that most able bodied children would also need a companion to travel with them to these shows. With that said, those families would not have to face the financial difficulties most with a child with a disability have to experience. The companion card lets my god daughter enjoy experiences once thought out of the question.

    Reply
    • Fiona,

      That’s so good to hear. The Companion Card is certainly wonderful. I was lucky enough to see Jason Derulo recently and he was fantastic.

      Julie

      Reply
  7. Many cinemas now cater only for online bookings. That is no human contact involved. Online booking doesn’t have provision for the card. How is this solved please?

    Reply
    • Hi Graham

      I am yet to find a solution annoyingly. I’ve emailed Event Cinemas after frustrating experiences and their response has been unsatisfactory to say the least.

      I’ll continue to pursue it but at the moment no-one is listening.

      Julie

      Reply
  8. Thanks Julie

    The response I have received is that the cinema needs to sight the companion card to prevent misuse. My suggestion is that a digital version of the card be kept by the cinema (like CineBuzz) and we quote the number when booking?

    Reply
  9. It sounds wonderful! The only problem I have found with it that its increasing acceptance makes many businesses think they now don’t have to offer free entry for carers or workers of someone without one. In fact its unlawful to charge entry to a support person of someone who needs one. The companion card does not cover all disability unfortunately. Its relevant that we all remember there are many types of disability and not all are eligible for The Companion Card, but are still eligible for free entry. To anywhere. Go Disability rights!

    Reply
  10. Companion card can save you loads… we attend the Mundi Mundi Music Festival and they accept the card, its a huge saving. Village cinemas now can link to your on line account which makes booking so easy. Would love to hear some more places.
    Thanks for your article.

    Reply

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