A dedicated space for guide and assistance dogs

Heidi Biggin walks on a patch of grass with her guide dog Freya.

A new project in Ballarat’s CBD will provide community members with guide and assistance dogs, with a dedicated space for their dogs to relieve themselves.  

The space, which is proposed for installation in Doveton Street South, will comprise a shelter with seating, some fencing (though it will not be fully enclosed), an accessible path, a drinking fountain and a rubbish bin. It will also feature a public art component, which will be developed collaboratively through guided community workshops with an artist.

Pioneered by the City of Ballarat’s Disability Advisory Committee, the dedicated guide dog relieving station is slated for completion by the end of the year.  

The project is being funded by Regional Development Victoria, through the ‘Living Local Fund’, and the City of Ballarat.  

Disability Advisory Committee member Heidi Biggin, who has been instrumental in the development of the project, said the dedicated guide dog relieving station will make a huge difference for community members with guide and assistance dogs — herself included.

Currently, any visit to a public space requires a significant amount of planning and forethought for Heidi. If Heidi visits a public space, she must either bring a square metre piece of turf for her guide dog Freya to relieve herself on, and then dispose of it, or meticulously plan her outing to ensure she can access green space within two hours.

“Prior to getting Freya, it didn’t even cross my mind that this would be the biggest stress about having a guide dog,” Heidi said.  

“Having this space next to Target, in the CBD, will save a lot of stress.”  

The other components of the dedicated assistance dog relieving station — access to a rubbish bin, a place to sit for herself and her children, and a place to put Freya’s harness and her bags down — will also make a big difference for Heidi.  

“There are a lot of people who would have no idea that safe toileting spaces are a requirement for assistance dogs,” she said.

“But being an inclusive community is thinking about what everyone’s needs are.”

The dedicated guide and assistance dog relieving station project aligns with Goal 2 of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025: a healthy, connected and inclusive community. 

More information about the dedicated guide dog relieving station project is featured in the latest edition of ourballarat, which will soon be delivered to homes across Ballarat.