Have you heard of the Companion Card before? It's a government issued program that enables people with disability to take a buddy with them to participating venues and events without paying for a second ticket. This companion could be a family member, friend or even a disability support worker.
More and more venues are putting their hands up to participate in the program. These include movie cinemas, rock climbing centres, Australia Zoo and the Sydney Royal Easter Show, to name a few.
Your Companion Card is recognised nationally within Australia, but you must apply in the state that you live in. The application processes are very similar, and take about 4-6 weeks. Here's how you can get your Companion Card in a few simple steps:
1. Check your eligibility
Before applying for a Companion Card, check your eligibility. There is no age restriction, and it's free to apply.
All states have the same criteria, which includes:
- You must be an Australian citizen or resident and live in the state you are applying in
- You have a significant and permanent disability
- Due to your disability, you require high-level support for social and community activities
- Your requirement for support is life-long
It is also important to note that being eligible for NDIS does not mean guaranteed eligibility for the Companion Card.
For more information about your specific state to access the application, click your state or territory below:
- States: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia
- Territories: Northern Territory, ACT
2. Gather supporting materials and documents
You must submit an application form which includes your basic details, diagnosis, and level of support currently required. If you are applying on behalf of someone else, make sure you put their name and information down on the forms. Some sections also require the input of a healthcare professional, such as your psychiatrist or social worker.
Other supporting materials may include:
- Passport style photos (some states require signatures from healthcare professionals on the back to verify identity)
- Copies of reports confirming diagnosis, and any relevant tests and assessments relating to your disability
What is required may vary between states, so check your application forms to make sure nothing's missing.
3. Submit your application
Once you've filled out the form and gathered your relevant supporting materials, you can either submit your application online, via email or post.
The webpages for the application process in your state linked in the 'Check your eligibility' section will have this information available.
4. After submitting your application
Applications will take around 4-6 weeks to process, depending on the state or territory you are in. Once it is approved, you will receive your Companion Card.
If for some reason your application is declined, you will receive a letter to notify you of this. You can always contact your state's Companion Card office to discuss your application.
5. Renew your Companion Card
A Companion Card is valid either for 5 years, or longer if indicated on your card. After this period, each state has their own renewal process, so make sure to check your state or territory's website.
For example, in NSW, you are only required to provide a new passport-style photo and your current residential address. In comparison, if you live in Victoria you will need to provide details of your diagnosis from a healthcare professional again, in addition to providing photos. It is important you have followed your state's steps correctly to prevent delays!
6. Find venues that accept Companion Cards
You'll quickly discover that there are heaps of places that will allow you to bring a companion for free. You can find the full list by visiting your state government's Companion Card website.
Here are a few key organisations that accept them:
- Cinemas: Hoyts, Event, Reading, Dendy, Village
- Sport: NRL (some matches), A-league (some matches), V8 Supercars, AFL
- Museums and galleries: Powerhouse Museum, Scienceworks, Queensland Art Gallery, Australian Museum
Alternatively, Like Family has an Events page that we regularly update with fun and accessible events that you can often use a Companion Card to access.
7. Bring your Like Family Social Carer along!
If you currently hold a Companion Card, or have successfully applied for one, it's time to get out and about! With so many local places that accept the Companion Card, there are now more ways to have fun with your Social Carer! How about seeing that new movie that's hit the cinemas, or take a dip at your local aquatic centre?
Are you ready for your next adventure and need help finding the perfect Social Carer? Our Customer Care team is here to help via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 545 332.