Wednesday, April 26 2023 is International Guide Dog Day which celebrates our PAW-fect friends that support people with low vision or blindness to achieve their goals and live independently.
Guide Dogs Australia is a key organisation that has been advocating for Australia's state and territory-based Guide Dogs services since 1957! Let's get to know them a little better...
Who are Guide Dogs Australia?
Guide Dogs Australia is an organisation who provide support to its state and territory-based branches so that they can deliver essential services to people who have visual impairments.
Its mission is to "assist people who are blind or have low vision gain the freedom and independence to move safely and confidently around their communities. That way, every person has the chance to fulfil their potential".
Guide Dog Australia's services are provided regardless of the individual's government funding, so that "everybody who needs a Guide Dog, has a Guide Dog".
What does Guide Dogs Australia do?
Guide Dogs Australia, in conjunction with their state and territory-based organisations, offer personalised training and support programs to children, teenagers, adults, and older Australians who are blind or have low vision. These services include:
- Teaching adults practical mobility skills so that they get where they need to go with confidence.
- Teaching children the mobility skills they need to learn, play and explore the world with confidence.
- Providing Early Childhood Services (ECS) support to parents and carers of children with visual impairments up to the age of seven.
- Providing Guide Dog Mobility training to people with low vision and blindness so that they can maximise their independence and confidence when in public places.
- Providing Therapy Dogs and Autism Assistance Dogs to children with visual impairments and additional needs for companionships and so they can develop skills for participating in the community.
- Providing Companion Dogs to families and individuals in need of stability and friendship.
- Providing services to people with an acquired brain injury so that they can regain their independence and confidence after their neurological event.
- Consulting with workplaces, private residences and organisations in the community so that they can enhance their accessibility for people with low vision and blindness.
- Connecting parents of children with vision impairments to an Orthoptist, who can provide strategies and recommend equipment that supports their specific vision goals.
- Connecting people with low vision and blindness to an Occupational Therapist, who can support them to perform practical tasks at home, work, or school.
- Providing information on how to access assistive technology such as identification and support canes, mini-guides, iPhone GPS and smartphone apps and guide dogs to people with vision impairments.
- Providing information on how to access psychology and counselling to people with vision impairments and their families.
- Connecting people with vision impairments to local leisure and lifestyle services so that they can create ongoing friendships and a network of support.
How can I support Guide Dogs Australia?
With all of these phenomenal services, you're probably wondering how you can help Guide Dogs Australia in supporting the community.
This year, Guide Dogs Australia will shine a light on the humans behind these amazing dogs. Their ‘Talk to the Handler’ campaign will see Guide Dog Handlers share their thoughts on a wide variety of topics important to them, speak out about issues and challenges, and answer questions you’ve always wanted to know but felt you couldn’t ask. They also have lots of FUN ways to get involved with International Guide Dog Day 2023 including:
- Test your dog’s skills and participate in the Guide Dogs Challenge on TikTok
- Follow their Facebook and Instagram for interviews with Guide Dog Handlers and learn about their experiences.
- Attend an exciting pup-up event happening in Sydney on 26th April (hint: there will be puppies!).
- Share their posts and messages about advocacy, petiquette, accessibility, and creating inclusive environments.
Other ways to support Guide Dogs Australia include:
- Leaving a gift in your Will
- Making a regular contribution to a Guide Dog Program, which trains puppies to become highly skilled Guide Dogs
- Joining the Major Giving Program
- Getting involved with community fundraising
- Becoming a National Corporate Partner
- Becoming a volunteer
Want to learn more about Guide Dogs Australia and their state and territory based services? Head to https://guidedogs.com.au/