The Companion Card refers to something that allows someone that accompanies a person with a disability to have free entry to a venue or event across Australia. This ensures that people with a learning disability or autism- among other disabilities have fair access to venues and events instead of missing out. The person with a disability would pay concession or pensioner rates to an event, gig or on public transport whereas the person who accompanies them through their Companion Card doesn’t pay anything. The person looking after them can be friends, family, support workers or relationship partners. This can be used all over Australia if you’re on holidays as well as in day-to-day life in Sydney & NSW.
There are great benefits to the Companion Card and many places that accept and allow you to use it frequently. The Companion Card essentially allows 2 people to go out for the price of 1 person and even then that person would be on concession rates. Some key experiences that the Companion Card has allowed me to achieve and enjoy that I may not have had the luxury to do otherwise if I didn’t have a Companion Card, was to be able to buy sports memberships to go to sports games to watch my favourite teams. This is the case as usually sports memberships and tickets to watch your favourite team can be quite expensive and they can add up in price.
However, with the Companion Card, it has enabled me to be able to buy 2 sports memberships for the price of 1. This means that as a result, I’ve been able to let my companion come with me to sports games without having to pay for an extra membership. In turn, this has allowed me to be active within the community, watch very high quality rugby league or basketball matches and it has enabled me to not miss out on sports games that other people would naturally be able to go to and to be able to afford to attend.
When I buy memberships for the Sydney Roosters, Sydney Kings, Sydney 6ers, Sydney Swans or hopefully the NSW Swifts, I usually buy 1 concession membership and 1 companion card membership which enables me to get 2 memberships at 1 concession rate. It’s a very good deal and it’s allowed me to attend many more games and also to have 2 lots of items in membership packs instead of 1 which is what most people get. This was evident with the Sydney Roosters as I got both a beanie and scarf instead of just 1 or the other along with 2 pens and membership packs. The Sydney Kings enabled me to get 2 hats, keyrings & stickers along with 2 fridge schedules of when the games are on during the upcoming season. I’ve felt a lot less socially isolated as a result of having 2 sports memberships.
I’ve had the opportunity with my Companion Card to be able to go here, there and everywhere on public transport to allow my companion cheaper transport so that I can get out and about more instead of not being able to due to the person coming with me having to pay adult transport fares. It’s meant that it’s cheaper for me to go out with someone else and in turn, I’d be able to go and see a lot more in Sydney than I would have previously. For example, when I was with my carer, we’d often be charged through NDIS for his transport costs with his adult fares but now that I have a companion card, he gets free transport on public transport and we don’t have to pay his train fares now.
As a result of him getting free transport, we’ve been to Wollongong, Bondi, Manly, Circular Quay, Central, to the Sydney Cricket Ground & Cronulla and he hasn’t paid for any public transport during those trips at all, whereas, it would’ve cost a large amount of money for daily fares to and from those places in the past. It’s saved me money and I’ve been living a fulfilled life by travelling and being an active member of the community whenever I’m with my carer.
A key experience that the Companion Card has offered me was being able to go to the Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney in June 2019 with my buddy, Kelly, and to be able to only pay for 1 concession ticket instead of 2. This has made a massive difference to me and it’s meant that I was able to enjoy a big day out at the Good Food and Wine Show. It’s also allowed my buddy, Kelly & I to have a half priced concession ticket instead of paying for 2 adult tickets to be able to attend the Good Food & Wine Show.
The Good Food and Wine Show has been massive for me and it was something that I benefited with greatly when I had the opportunity to meet some celebrity chefs at the Good Food & Wine Show instead of previously missing out because it might have been too expensive for me in the past. I got to meet Miguel Maestre, Colin Fassnidge, Anthony Puharich & Kylie Kwong on that day out! If it wasn’t for the Companion Card, that day may not have been financially affordable for me to go to.
With the Companion Card, I was able to run in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival in 2018 which I may not have been able to run in unless I had someone do it with me that year. Normally, tickets can cost up to $50, which is what my Dad would have had to pay for my sister to run it with me. This would have therefore meant that it would have cost money for me to be able to have support and it would’ve been harder for me to be able to run at the Blackmores Running Festival without support or I may not have even been able to do it at all.
However, having the Companion Card meant that my sister got to run in the 3.5km fun run at the Blackmores Running Festival with me for free and it saved her & my Dad $50 which would’ve gone towards a quick race for 20 minutes maximum. That money could then be used for something else and I didn’t feel socially isolated, withdrawn or excluded and the Companion Card allowed me to be able to achieve my goal of topping the 20-29 year old age group at the Blackmores Running Festival and to be able to be successful at that. I came 24th out of 7622 people with a time of 14.24 minutes for 3.5km (pretty happy with that!). I also came 1st out of 151 males in my age group and 16th out of 3378 males all up in the 3.5km run. My sister got to have a great day out with me as well for free, which was pretty good and we both met celebrities too such as Matty J from The Bachelor Australia and Peter Overton from the Channel 9 Evening News!
Another example of me getting to use my Companion Card was when I was going to go to Melbourne, with my carer, Ben. The hostel, YHA Australia in the Melbourne CBD where I was going to stay at, allowed me to use my Companion Card to give my carer free accommodation and to be able to stay at the hostel with me for 2 people’s rates instead of 1 as they knew that I needed someone to be with me otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go to Melbourne to have a holiday with my carer. I unfortunately had to cancel that trip and I went with other people instead but if I was going to go with him, I would’ve gotten half-priced accommodation as a result of my Companion Card.
I also got some of my carer’s airfare to and from Melbourne discounted as well as a result of the Companion Card when I went to book my airfares as he got a good discount off his flight as a result of me having my Companion Card and me needing someone to come with me on the plane. It would’ve been cheaper for us to fly to Melbourne with Virgin Australia as a result of my carer’s discounted fare with the Companion Card.
This was part of the reason why it would’ve been affordable for me to go on a holiday with someone otherwise if I didn’t have my Companion Card, I may not have been able to fly to or stay in accommodation in Melbourne with a friend or carer as I would’ve been excluded due to expensive costs and having to pay for 2 full airfares and 2 people in backpacker accommodation instead of just 1 person with a companion card. This therefore makes the Companion Card easier for me to go away with friends and to get to travel like other young people do easily. I would’ve then felt isolated and I wouldn’t be able to travel at all as I’d need someone to go with me to go travelling.
Thanks for reading!