The introduction of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program supports at Australia’s airports has been a game-changer. People with hidden disabilities and sensory sensitivities can now access the support they need to make it through one of the most stressful aspects of travel. Adelaide Airport is levelling-up, though, with the introduction of Australia’s first full-time airport facility dog. Meet Elmo!
Elmo is the only permanent airport facility dog in Australia, providing comfort to anyone who might need it in transit through Adelaide Airport. Guide Dogs SA/NT has provided Elmo with specific training that enables him to work professionally and unobtrusively in providing assistance.
Elmo works, alongside his handlers, from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday in the airport terminal. Passengers can arrange a booking with Elmo ahead of time, but he’s also on hand to provide support as needed. His speciality is “Calming Walks” through the Adelaide Airport terminal.
He’s even been known to “sense” when visitors might be feeling anxious or upset, and offer his services. He enjoys cuddles and pats from travellers of all ages and abilities.
Adelaide Airport Managing Director Brenton Cox says: “Research has shown that the presence of a Facility Dog can help people control anxiety, regulate emotions, and improve mood.”
“Sometimes it might be that he sits next to an anxious traveller. Other times, he will be there for a reassuring pat and an alternative focus, or as a calming presence for others.”
Elmo is a wonderful addition to an already-impressive roster of access and inclusion initiatives at Adelaide Airport. Find out more on their website.
We provided a guide to Australian airports for people with hidden disabilities in Issue #8 of Travel Without Limits. Subscribe here.