Recently my sister, who lives with a life-long disability, had her friend approved for a Companion Card. So, we thought it would be a great idea to write an article to tell you more about how the card works and where you can use them. 🙂
If you are a person living with disability, or a carer, or a disability support worker, you may have heard of Companion Cards. Companion Cards are a useful tool for helping people with disability access community activities, events, and other services.
In this helpful article, we answer your questions about Companion Cards, including how to get a Companion Card and where to use it.
- What is a Companion Card?
- Who is entitled to a card?
- How to get a Companion Card
- Using your Companion Card
- Who accepts the cards around Brisbane?
- Where else can you use your Companion Card?
- More places to go
What is a Companion Card?
People living with disability, (like my sister) or those requiring attendant care support, are entitled to live a full life. There should be no restrictions to their access to the community, activities, venues, or events. A Companion Card helps card holders access public transport and venues with their “attendant care support” person by providing a second “companion” ticket at no extra cost to the card holder.
Companion Cards are issued in the name of the person who has a disability, and are valid for five years.
A Companion Card is not the same as a Carers Card. The information provided below relates to Companion Cards only.
Defining “attendant care support”
Attendant care support means significant assistance with mobility, communication, self-care or learning, where the use of aids, equipment or alternative strategies does not enable a person to carry out these tasks independently.
The person providing attendant care support can be a paid or volunteer care provider, friend, family member, or partner.
Families Tip: Attendant care support does not include a companion who provides social company, reassurance or encouragement only.
Who is entitled to a card?
Entitlement to a Companion Card is not dependent on income or assets, and you can still be eligible if you are working or self employed.
If you are a lawful Australian resident whose access to the community is impacted by disability, you may be eligible for a Companion Card if you:
- need attendant care support to access public transport and venues, and to participate in community events and activities
- need (or are likely to need) lifeling attendant care support.
You are not eligible for a Companion Card if:
- you are the attendant support provider or organisation and not the person in need of support
- your disability is temporary, i.e. full recovery is expected after treatment and rehabilitation
- you are a child who needs support due to your age rather than because of disability. (Families Tip: there are no age limit restrictions on eligibility provided a need for lifelong attendant support is demonstrated)
- you rely on your companion for social support and encouragement only
Families Tip: Participation in the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) does not automatically guarantee eligibility for a Companion Card. You must submit an application to determine eligibility.
The Companion Card program will consider an application from a person whose condition is episodic, for example, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or schizophrenia. Evidence must be provided about the frequency and impact of episodes and about why attendant care support is needed.
How to get a Companion Card
Applications must be made in your principal state of residence. Residents of Queensland can apply for a card by completing this pdf application form, which can also be requested from Card Services on 13 74 68. Residents in other states can find application details on their state’s government website.
You will need to attach two identical colour passport photos and have your application verified by your service provider or health professional. Anyone can assist you with completing your form, and if you are unable to sign, a formal or informal decision maker can sign on your behalf.
Using your Companion Card
At many venues you can use your card at the door. If you need to pre-purchase tickets, let the venue know that you require a ticket for your companion, too, and remember to show your Companion Card when you arrive. Your Companion Card is valid for one additional ticket only.
The Companion Card only provides entry. It does not cover extras like food and drink. Some venues do apply additional restrictions, but we will tell you about them as they apply.
In short, we found that your Companion Card
- provides one additional user ticket
- does not cover the cost of meals or other extras (some exceptions apply, e.g. where morning tea is included as part of an activity or tour, but generally your companion should expect to pay for their own food and souvenirs)
- must be presented upon entry
- must be mentioned when pre-purchasing tickets where you require your support person’s attendance
Who accepts the cards around Brisbane?
The use of Companion Cards is not restricted to their issuing state. Companion Card holders across Australia can use their cards at all participating venues in Queensland. And Queensland Companion Card holders can use their cards interstate. How cool is that!?
Here’s where you can use yours in SE Queensland…
Card holders can get one free ticket for their attendant support provider on Translink trains, buses and ferries. Head to the city, cruise the Brisbane River on City Cat, explore the Southern Moreton Bay Islands and Stradbroke Island, or simply head to the shops and appointments without the hassle of finding a parking space. Saves on fuel costs too!
If you fancy travelling a little further, your Companion Card is also accepted on the Tilt Train and Air Train.
Brisbane city attractions
Brisbane has many accessible attractions that accept Companion Cards. This is where yours can take you:
Museums – Government-owned museums provide free entry to all anyway, but special exhibitions often have an entry cost involved. Your attendant support worker can attend with you at no extra cost!
Sparklab – Located in Queensland Museum, Sparklab Sciencentre has interactive exhibits across three STEM-based zones.
QAGOMA – Like the government-owned museums, Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art are free to enter. Tickets are required for special exhibits where additional costs apply.
Wheel of Brisbane – Concession card holders ride at a discounted price, and their companion rides at zero cost upon presentation of the Companion Card.
Brisbane City Hall & Clock Tower – Access and tours are free for all, but bookings are required. The Clock Tower itself is not accessible to those in a wheelchair or who use mobility aids, but your assistance animal is welcome to join you.
Story Bridge Climb – If you are physically able to climb the bridge (it’s a steep ascent with a round trip 1138 steps!) your companion can climb with you, free of charge. You will need to book online by calling 07 3188 9070 between 8:30-11:30am and 2:30-8pm.
The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium – Just outside Brisbane, next to the Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens, general admission to The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is free. The Planetarium regularly hosts shows and paid events. Your Companion Card is accepted for entry tickets to all paid events.
Brisbane Ghost Tours – Fancy getting spooked? Your companion can join you FREE OF CHARGE on any of the Brisbane Ghost Tours. This includes South Brisbane, Toowong, Lutwych, and Nundah Cemetaries, Boggo Road Gaol, Haunted Brisbane (foot tours and coach tours offered), and any other tour offered by Ghost Tours Australia and Crime Tours Australia. Prices start at $25. Make your booking over the phone if booking a Companion Card ticket. Find out more here.
Theatres across SE QLD offer one free Companion Card ticket to card holders so that their attendant support person can accompany them to shows and events. Make your Companion Card bookings over the phone, and present the card upon entry for your companion to gain access.
Check out what’s on at these participating local theatres…
- Brisbane Arts Theatre, 210 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane City 4000
- Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm 4005 (at most events. Call front-of-house on 3358 8622 for specific advice regarding your chosen performance)
- La Boite Theatre, 6-8 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove 4059.
Assistance animals also welcome.
- Logan Entertainment Centre, 170 Wembley Road, Logan Central. When booking online, click the button that says “I have accessibility requirements” when selecting the date of the performance. You will then be able to choose wheelchair accessible seats or regular seats, and an additional seat for your companion.
- Kingston Butter Factory, 270 Jacaranda Avenue, Kingston 4114
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), cnr Melbourne Street and Grey Street, South Brisbane
Assistance animals also welcome.
- QUT Gardens Theatre, 2 George Street, Brisbane 4000
- Redcliffe Entertainment Centre, Downs Street, Redcliffe 4020 (at most events, except where a “No Free Tickets” disclaimer appears next to the event)
- Redland Performing Arts Centre (RPAC), 2-16 Middle Street, Cleveland 4163
- Sunnybank Performing Arts Centre (SunPAC), 470 McCullough Street, Sunnybank 4109 (at most events, except where a “No Free Tickets” disclaimer appears next to the event)
Queensland cinemas accept Companion Cards for most screenings. The exception is where “No Free Tickets” is stated, which is usually only during the first two weeks of an eagerly anticipated movie’s release. Wait two weeks and your companion can accompany you free of charge, and you’ll probably have a less crowded screening too! If you really can’t wait and want to see the movie as soon as it’s out, most cinemas offer a cheaper concession price for your companion.
These cinema chains participate in the Companion Card scheme:
Find them at Balmoral, Hawthorn, South Bank, Victoria Point, Nerang, and Redbank.
Your companion will be charged at a pensioner’s ticket price upon presentation of the Companion Card where “No Free Tickets” applies to a movie,.
You will find Event Cinemas in Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Cairns and Rockhampton.
Where “No Free Tickets” applies to a movie, your companion will be charged at a concession rate upon presentation of the Companion Card. Your companion will also only pay the reduced price of $1 for 3D glasses if you choose to see a 3D screening. If you want to book your tickets in advance, Event Cinemas recommends booking at least three days in advance via this link.
Find Palace Barracks at Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, and at James Street, Fortitude Valley.
Companion Cards are accepted for all general sessions, but not for “Palace Premium” sessions.
Find them at Redcliffe, Stafford, and Sunnybank. Companion Cards are accepted at the counter. You are not able to book online for a Companion Card ticket, but you can reserve seats by calling the cinema in advance and asking them to hold until presentation of your card, or purchase a full price ticket online and ask the staff to refund it at the counter when you arrive.
Five Star Cinemas
Find them in Brisbane City (Elizabeth Street), New Farm, Red Hill, Graceville, and the Yatala Drive-in. Five Star Cinemas offers a entry to you and your companion at child prices – no free tickets.
Gyms and fitness centres
Do you love swimming, sport, and exercise? Use your Companion Card at gyms and fitness centres all over Australia. You can pump iron with your trusted companion “spotting” you, or have your companion enter the water with you for a little aquarobics. There’s no excuse for your companion to be a couch potato when they can get free entry with you to the classes and service at these venues!
- PCYC – venues across Queensland
- City Aquatics – Click here to find a pool near you. Attendant carers enter the pool at no cost.
- Logan Leisure Centres
- World Gym – facilities in the Brisbane and greater Brisbane area accept Companion Cards for support workers. Support workers are not permitted to provide 1:1 personal training and can only be there to support/aid the person perform tasks that are impacted by their disability. Carers are required to pay for a casual visit if training themselves.
- Snap Fitness – locations across Brisbane – gyms are individually owned by francisees; check with your local gym for details
Zoos and wildlife sancturies are perfect for days out. Use your Companion cards for one free entry at these locations:
- Australia Zoo, 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah 4519. Learn more here.
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, 28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin 4223. Read our review here.
- Sea Life, Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba 4557. Read our review here.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 708 Jesmond Road, Fig Tree Pocket 4069. Read our review here.
- Bribie Island Butterfly House, 206B First Avenue, Bongaree Bribie Island. Assistance animals also welcome with identity and appropriate harness. Read our review here.
- Paradise Country, Production Drive, Oxenford 4210. Read our review here.
Theme parks welcome visitors of all abilities and love to make your visit enjoyable and memorable. Wherever possible these venues strive to make their rides and attractions accessible to all within legislated safety requirements and restrictions. Make time to visit their Guest Services offices when you arrive for additional tips and advice to get the most out of your visit.
Companion Card holders are eligible for one free entry ticket for their support attendant at these venues:
- Dreamworld, Coomera 4209 – we’ve written many articles about Dreamworld, and you can find them all here.
- WhiteWater World, Coomera 4209
- Movie World, Oxenford 4210
- Wet n Wild, Oxenford 4210
- Sea World, Main Beach 4217
- Aussie World, 73 Frizzo Road, Palmview 4553
Local attractions and leisure venues
Queenslanders are lucky to have some amazing local attractions perfect for a day trip or special occasion. These attractions all accept Companion Cards for one free entry, and many offer special discounted entry to the card holder, too. If the venue you want to visit isn’t listed below, give them a call – and then let us know what they say in the comments section!
- SkyPoint, Q1, Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise 4217
- Victoria Park Putt Putt, 223 Herston Road, Herston 4006 – your companion can play putt putt with you at no cost, and there’s no need to book ahead!
- Strike Bowling – free bowling and laser tag for attendant support persons.
- Zone Bowling – one free game for the attendant support person.
- Historical Villages – get one free entry to these historical villages:
Caboolture Historical Village
Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum
Logan Village Museum
- Brisbane Motor Museum, 959 Nudgee Road, Banyo. Learn more here.
- Wall Walkers Bouldering, 10/6 Jones Road, Capalaba 4157 – Companion Card accepted when your companion climbs with you – a great way to stay strong and active! Find out more here.
Seasonal events and festivals
There’s a limited window of opportunity to enjoy seasonal activities – make the most of them while you can! Get one free entry for your companion to…
The Ekka! – Brisbane’s favourite show allows one free companion entry per card holder. Ticket sales are online. Your Companion Card will be accepted at the gate as a ticket for your companion’s entry. We’ve got all the Ekka info you need right here.
Whale Watching with Sea World Cruises – Book directly with the operator over the phone to get your free Companion Card ticket, and present your card when boarding. Your assistance animal is welcome too! Find out more here.
Festivals – Brisbane hosts amazing festivals all through the year. Ticketing varies for each one. Generally festivals accept Companion Cards for attendant care givers. See what’s coming up near you here.
Where else can you use your Companion Card?
OK Companion Card holders, it’s over to you now. We’ve listed heaps of places to use your card, but this list isn’t exhaustive. We’re always building our list, so we invite you to share your knowledge with other users in the comments below. Tell us, where have you used your Companion Card?
More places to go
There are literally hundreds of places to go in South East Queensland where your companion can get in free without a Companion Card – and so can you! Check out all these free things to do in SE QLD.