Annual Report 2019 - banner image with two puppies

Guide Dogs Victoria Annual Report 2019

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Guide Dogs Victoria:
A year in review.

It’s been an exciting and significant year at Guide Dogs Victoria! From expanding our Client services to developing foundations for a sustainable future, we’ve helped more people in more places maximise their independence.

It’s time to paws and reflect on the bold campaigns, educational programs, and innovation that has helped champion accessibility for all Victorians.

A man walking a Guide Dog on the street

Our Clients

Our Clients are at the heart of everything we do.

Everyone arrives at Guide Dogs Victoria with a different story, which is why our services are individually tailored to support each person’s unique life goals. We’re also committed to ensuring our built environment is safe and accessible for all Victorians.

Did you know that 1 in 2 Guide Dog handlers have been refused access to a public place or service?

This statistic launched an awareness campaign promoting access rights for Guide Dogs in Victoria. Accessibility is important to all our clients—including the 73% who receive non-Guide Dog related services.

To bring more light to this important issue, we've introduced access consulting services. These services provide our community with direction on complying with Australian Disability Access Regulations, ensuring our spaces are inclusive for people of all abilities.

Pictures of Guide Dogs in different contexts: at the Australian Open, in an office, and with handlers

Tune in: A video supporting the 2019 Access Campaign for Guide Dogs Victoria.

Supporting our Clients in 2019

By providing more than 20,993 hours of Client service, we have had a positive impact on over 9,824 individuals and their support networks. Our service hours represent a 13% increase from last year, with these results contributing to our first Net Promoter score.

Net Promoter scores indicate Client satisfaction and retention, and our score of 68 is considered an excellent result! Alongside showcasing our commitment to our Clients, this number sets a benchmark for future measurement and improvement.


Tech support

2% increase



11% increase


Occupational therapy

10% increase


Children's mobility service

8% increase


Guide dog service

28% increase


Group programs

4% increase


Client programs

17% increase


Adult mobility service

19% increase


Support coordination

18% increase

A woman with low vision is using a cane outside with another woman standing beside her

Supporting regional communities

We are committed to building lasting connections with Victoria’s regional communities.

With the demand for our services rapidly growing, we’re excited to share that we have opened two new hubs in regional Victoria!

Local hubs for local clients.

The hubs provide localised and personal services to regional Clients who were previously supported by our Kew headquarters.

To expand our service offering, we opened a dedicated service centre in the heart of Bendigo and moved to a new and improved location in Geelong—keeping our doors open to peer support groups and providing easier access for our Clients.

A series of pictures sharing images of the local hubs in regional communities: this includes a tent with a team of people standing beneath it, a person with low vision in conversation, and a woman beside a Guide Dog
A woman's profile is backlit by light, her face is cast in shadow

Community education

A sensory exhibition set in total darkness.

Dialogue in the Dark Melbourne was designed to enlighten the public and raise awareness of the issues facing people with low vision and blindness. The exhibition allowed thousands of Victorians to use scent, sound, texture, and temperature to navigate iconic Melbourne locations.

Dialogue in the Dark’s incredible two-year season ended on 14 July 2019.

More than just an exhibition, this social enterprise had a positive impact on the lives of almost 25,000 visitors who helped share the message of inclusivity and accessibility within our community.

A series of pictures including: a man standing in the dark with light shining through the ceiling, the Dialogue logo, and a selection of group shots of Dialogue participants

Tune in: Karen Hayes, CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria, describes the Dialogue in the Dark experience.

Dialogue in the Dark’s Impact


Exhibition visitors

Over two years


Workshop participants

Over 124 workshops


School students

152 school groups

A team photo of Giving Day volunteers at Guide Dogs HQ raising their hands in celebration


Looking for new and engaging ways to FUNdraise!

Our generous and loyal donors support us year-on-year through philanthropic contributions. This support helps us deliver world-class services to people with low vision or blindness. By providing funds to help breed, raise, and train our life-changing Guide Dogs, donors play a crucial role in supporting everyone to achieve their unique goals and aspirations.

For 2019, we developed a bold plan to host a Giving Day: a 24-hour period where every donation we received was quadrupled by some extraordinarily generous supporters.

Future Bound Giving Day 2019.

Giving Day lived up to its name thanks to an incredible cast of volunteers, donors and supporters giving their all to achieve an amazing result. Together, we raised $1.8 million towards the redevelopment of our Kew campus. Thanks to the overwhelming support of our community, the future is looking bright!

A series of imagery promoting Giving Day including: Giving Day marketing material and an image of Guide Dogs volunteers and staff at a registration table

Tune in: Our first-ever Giving Day campaign meant that every dollar received was QUADRUPLED by our generous supporters.

Crunching the fundraising figures for 2019


Giving Day Donation Total


Number of FY19 Donations


FY19 Donation Total

A Guide Dog is sitting outside with a 9 News microphone held to his snout for comment

Media Coverage

Reaching far and wide!

They say a picture can tell a thousand words, and at Guide Dogs Victoria, a picture can grab the attention of thousands of people! Throughout 2019, we have continued to build our brand and our media presence. This year we reached a whopping 184 million people—that’s almost triple 2018’s result!

Sharing a message of diversity and inclusion.

Through partnerships, including with Kangan and Bendigo TAFE, we had the opportunity to engage new audiences. This year, we joined forces to showcase an accessible garden at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Patrons could stop and smell the roses, touch the braille handrails and listen to the sound of the water installation within the stimulating sensory experience.

A series of images from the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show: A man and woman are outside in conversation, and a couple sits beside a Guide Dog at the show

Tune in: Learn how we created a one-of-a-kind sensory garden for the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

Using media to expand our horizons


Media reach


Website visits


Social media growth y.o.y.


Facebook likes


Instagram followers


Engagement growth on Instagram


Twitter followers

A supermarket staff member stands beside a Guide Dogs employee inside. Alongside a Guide Dog at their feet, is a Guide Dogs Collection Dog

Connected communities

Supporting commuters with low vision and blindness.

Catching a train in the heart of Melbourne can be a challenge for anyone unfamiliar with our city. Navigating crowds, loud announcements, and multiple platforms can be especially confusing for commuters with low vision. In partnership with Public Transport Victoria (PTV), we have made improvements to this experience at some of the city’s busiest stations.

Piloting new programs.

We have connected with PTV, Park Hyatt Melbourne, Zoos Victoria, Melbourne Convention Bureau, Kangan Institute and Bendigo TAFE to develop opportunities for people with low vision to experience all that Melbourne has to offer. This includes a Peer Support Platform which we piloted with support from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), to assist people with vision loss to come together and create their own communities.

A series of pictures including: a Guide Dogs branded tram, two Guide Dogs sitting inside a populated tram, and a man and Guide Dog pictured outside the station
Dolly Diamond is pictured holding a Guide Dog puppy

Our people

A dedicated community working together.

Our entire team is committed to helping our Clients lead the life they want. Each of our employees, volunteers, and donors play an important role in delivering our life-changing services every day, every week, and every year.

More people supporting more clients in more places

We have invested heavily in our people, welcoming 36 new staff members this year. However, we simply couldn’t do what we do without the commitment of our amazing volunteers, donors, and network of dedicated ambassadors. From Puppy Raising, to fundraising and events, more than 1.5 million hours were volunteered last year and nearly 55,000 generous donors supported us to achieve the best outcomes for our Clients.

A series of pictures including: Eleanor Baillieu - Guide Dogs Ambassador with a guide dog, as well as a man and woman holding a puppy

Pawesome awards for outstanding efforts

Karen Hayes CEO

Recognised as an AM on the Australia Day Honour Roll and a Dame of The Order of St John of Jerusalem (DSJ)

Justin Marshall

Inducted in Lifetime Achievement Honour Roll - Victorian Disability Awards

Dialogue in the Dark

Finalist in the Melbourne City Awards

Results for our dedicated team


Employee engagement


New starters


Ambassador dogs


Volunteer engagement




Volunteer hours

A rendered image of the new Guide Dogs sensory campus seen from the front

Campus redevelopment

The future is in sight and within reach!

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, supporters and the wider community, we are officially ready to start the major redevelopment of our campus at Kew. Not only will we be building the first fully accessible sensory campus in the world, we are creating a sustainable future for our organisation.

Revolutionising our iconic campus.

The transformational redevelopment of our iconic campus will revolutionise the way we provide support to our Clients and serve the wider community through business enterprises, such as a veterinary centre and doggy day care.

These enterprises will generate new income streams and help ensure Guide Dogs Victoria is a thriving, independent organisation that can continue to provide world-class practice and innovation in the vision sector for many years to come.

A series of pictures of Guide Dogs Victoria staff playing with puppies

A message from the CEO The future is
in sight.

Karen Hayes and Willow.

This year heralded the beginning of an exciting new era for Guide Dogs Victoria and the thousands of people we support. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, supporters and the wider community, the ‘Future is in Sight’ campaign has been a resounding success and we are ready to officially start the major redevelopment of our campus at Kew.

Not only will we be building the first fully accessible sensory campus in the world, we are creating a sustainable future for our organisation. This will enable us to meet the growing demand for our support and deliver the quality of services our Clients deserve.

Our Clients are at the heart of everything we do. This unwavering commitment was reflected in a 17 per cent growth in Client programs last year. In total, our amazing staff delivered nearly 21,000 hours of services – a 13 per cent increase on the previous financial year.

I would sincerely like to thank our wonderful staff and volunteers for their passion, and dedication to achieving the best-possible outcomes for our Clients.

In addition to transforming our Kew campus into a world-class training and education centre, we have a commitment to localising services across the state. In 2019, we’ve opened the doors to a dedicated service centre in Bendigo as well as a new and improved location in Geelong. A home in the heart of Bendigo will allow our expert team to deliver more responsive services to Clients through the convenience and care of a local centre.

At the conclusion of an incredible two-year season in Melbourne, we celebrated the significant social impact of Dialogue in the Dark. A sensory exhibition that facilitates visitors experiencing daily living without sight, Dialogue in the Dark positively impacted in excess of 21,000 people with more than 98 percent of visitors agreeing the exhibition helped to change attitudes toward people who are blind or have low vision. Dialogue in the Dark achieved our goal to create a platform for social change and we will continue to champion inclusion and accessibility for all.

As we embark on the journey towards our vision for the future, we are as committed as ever to supporting Victorians to achieve a life of freedom and independence – now and for many years to come.

Karen Hayes and Willow signatures

Karen Hayes AM DSJ and Willow

CEO, Guide Dogs Victoria

Statement from the Chairperson Delivering the best outcomes for our Clients.

GDV's Chairperson, Iain Edwards

As a result of rigorous planning and responsible fiscal management, Guide Dogs Victoria is in a strong position to deliver on our progressive redevelopment project. The ‘Future is in Sight’ project will ensure we can continue to support the best outcomes for our Clients.

A key component of this strategy is to move from a reliance on grants and donations and transform into a thriving, independent organisation with a secure financial base. The new campus will include business enterprises, including a veterinary clinic and doggy day care, that will serve the local community while generating new income streams for our organisation.

While we’ve had a view to tomorrow, we invested significantly in Client Services this year and now support more people with low vision or blindness than ever before. Guide Dogs Victoria also remains at the forefront of innovation in the vision sector, leading the expansion of beacon technology in public places across Victoria. We also partnered with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) and Blindsquare to achieve a world-first in accessibility, fitting the Albert Park precinct with Beacon technology for the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019.

None of this would have been possible without the ongoing support of our loyal donors and the community. As Chair and also a Client of Guide Dogs Victoria, I appreciate the genuine difference you make to our organisation and people with low vision or blindness.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to congratulate Chief Executive Officer Karen Hayes and her Senior Leadership Team for their courage and dedication to supporting our Clients and people with low vision or blindness to achieve their goals in life.

Iain Edwards signature

Iain Edwards

Chairperson, GDV Board

A word from our Patron Guide Dogs enable Victorians to live free and independent lives.

GDV's Patron, The Honorable Linda Dessau AC

Victorians can be grateful for the services provided by Guide Dogs Victoria to enable those with low vision and blindness to live free and independent lives, with the confidence and skills to take on life’s challenges.

We can thank Guide Dogs Victoria too for its steadfast commitment to advocate widely for the inclusion of all Victorians with a disability, and the innovative collaborations they have undertaken to make Melbourne a more accessible and welcoming place for everyone.

As the proud Patron, it is pleasing to know that Guide Dogs Victoria’s redevelopment shall commence in the coming months, ensuring ongoing hope and help for the thousands of children and adults they support. Thank you to the Board, staff, donors, sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who do so much for so many.

The Honorable Linda Dessau AC

Governor of Victoria and Guide Dogs Victoria Patron


Our vision and mission

The first choice provider of services for people with blindness and low vision that enables a lifetime of independence.

Our values

Client service

Accountability and transparency

Professional excellence

Honesty and integrity

Mutual respect and trust

Success through people


Our board Guiding us toward a bright future.

Iain Edwards
Iain Edwards Chair
Charles Thompson
Charles Thompson Vice Chair
Bruce Brook
Bruce Brook Board Member
Harish Rao
Harish Rao Board Member
Jenny Gray
Jenny Gray Board Member
David Cochrane
David Cochrane Board Member
Anthony Kearns
Anthony Kearns Board Member
Angela Wheelton
Angela Wheelton OAM DSJ, Board Member
Nick Mescher
Nick Mescher Board Member
Maria Mercurio
Maria Mercurio Board Member Outgoing Oct 2018
Graeme Houghton
Graeme Houghton Board Member Outgoing Jan 2019

Gifts in Wills & Major Supporters Thank you for your generosity!


  • Ada Withers
  • Advance
  • Aged Persons Welfare Foundation
  • Ainslie Cummins
  • Allen and Wendy Russell
  • Alfred Noel Curphey
  • Allan Ross Raphael
  • Allen and Wendy Russell
  • Amelia Eliza Holland
  • Anne Brewster
  • Annie and John Paterson Foundation
  • Annie Gladys Matthews
  • Arthur Edward Ballard
  • Arvid Murray Johnson
  • Audrey Bownas
  • Audrey June Bryant
  • Barbara Vivian Smith
  • Belinda Lim
  • Bessie Mary Thompson
  • Betty Amsden Foundation
  • Betty Brenda Spinks
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Boroondara City Council
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Brian James Connor
  • Brian Johnstone
  • Brian M Davis Charitable Foundation
  • Brimbank City Council
  • Bruce McDonald Charitable Trust
  • Business Victoria
  • Charles Henry Maynard
  • Cheryl Lorraine Dobbie
  • Christina Kurcius
  • Christine Wood
  • City of Greater Bendigo
  • City of Melbourne
  • Claude Muhlethaler
  • Coles
  • Colin Bruce Bowman
  • Collier Charitable Fund
  • Commonwealth Bank Staff Fund
  • Community Enterprise Foundation
  • Cynthia Scherer
  • Daphne Edwardson
  • David J Grills
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Designer Plants
  • Donald Ernest Leith
  • Donald Persin
  • Doreen Hazel McKenzie
  • Edith Burgess
  • Edith Grace Kemp
  • Edmund Beer
  • Edna Beryl Baker
  • Edward Huglin
  • Elizabeth Bird
  • Enid Farmer
  • Florence Jessie Blythman
  • Francis Samuel Abrahams Charitable Trust
  • Frederick James Reid
  • Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation
  • Geoff Wing
  • Geok Wong Charitable Trust
  • Gloria Storer
  • Gourmet Pawprints
  • Greenstone
  • Gwen Carne
  • Gwenneth E Miller
  • Gwenneth Nancy Head Foundation
  • Helen Clement
  • Helen Jean Burgess
  • Helen Macpherson Smith Trust
  • Helen Rule
  • Hilary Irwin
  • Honda Foundation
  • Ian Frederick Leslie Johnson
  • Ian Potter Foundation
  • Ian William Dodd
  • Inez Drury
  • Irena Cheesman
  • James Alford
  • Jean Hadges
  • Jean Rentoul
  • Jean Webb
  • Jessica Maude Carvell
  • Jill Richmond Rymill
  • Jillian Bradshaw
  • Joan Carter
  • Joe White
  • Johanna Abbenhuis
  • John and Jenny Leaper
  • John and Lorraine Bates
  • John Dossetor
  • John Leonard Penwill
  • John Townend Goodfellow
  • Joseph Norman Mason
  • June Cameron
  • Justin Twomey


  • Karen and Graeme Hayes
  • Katherine Macpherson
  • Keith Dinsmore Yardy
  • Ken Wallace-Dunlop
  • Kenneth M Martin
  • Kong Company
  • L I Roach
  • Lady Marigold Southey
  • Linda Brown
  • Lisa Gorman
  • Lola Elisabeth Stewart
  • Lola Poynton
  • Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation
  • Luca Scribani Rossi
  • Mandy Deam Foundation
  • Mardi Melick
  • Margaret Ellen Meisenhelter
  • Margaret Hampton
  • Margaret Joan Johnson
  • Margaret Muriel Loughnan
  • Margaret Olivia Troy
  • Margaret Rickard
  • Margaret Ross
  • Margaret Winifred Palmer
  • Marie De Bavay
  • Marie Keane
  • Marjorie Bentley
  • Marjorie Hayes and Olivia Cock Memorial
  • Mary Louise June Maclean
  • Mary Veronica Jones
  • Maureen Dowsett
  • Mazda Foundation
  • NAB
  • Neville and Rita Brown
  • Noel Moore
  • Norm and Carol Hastings
  • Norma Helen Tyler
  • Norma Joyce Hughes
  • Norma McKenzie
  • Norman Alan Mills
  • Oswald Charles Hearne
  • Patricia McIntyre Foundation
  • Patricia Moloney
  • Paul Barnett
  • PAW by Blackmores
  • Peggy Valerie Luker
  • Perpetual - Brian J Sutton
  • Perpetual - Impact Philanthropy
  • Petstock
  • Phyllis Madeline Mackennal
  • Pierce Armstrong Trust
  • RACV
  • Richard and Elaine Stradwick
  • Richard Sadus
  • Rita Thompson
  • Ritchies
  • Robert Burden
  • Rodney John Barr
  • Rose Myrtle Pratt
  • Rosemary Atkinson
  • Ross William Garner
  • Roy Edwards
  • Ruby Janet Kathleen Tout
  • Russell Herbert Vontom
  • Sheila Mary McKenna
  • Shine On Foundation
  • Shirley Millicent Legge
  • Sue Webb
  • Sun Foundation
  • Svetko Krismancic
  • Sylvia Mary Dungan
  • The Ruth and Harry Taafe Charitable Trust
  • Thomas Anthony Henry Brady
  • Transport Accident Commission
  • Urquhart Charitable Fund
  • Valerie Pearl Cotton
  • Victor Russ Pittman
  • Wendy Coghill
  • Wendy Russell
  • Wilfred & Ruby Bird
  • William Arthur Shipperlee
  • William Mansel & Dorothy Higgins
  • Woolworths
  • Yvonne Mee

Puppy sponsors Helping our pups to succeed.

  • AIS Insurance
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Debbie Swan
  • G W Vowell Foundation
  • Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation - Eldon and Anne Foote Trust
  • Lottery Office Charitable and Community Benefits Trust

  • Margaret Ross
  • Monica Behrend
  • Patricia Culvenor
  • Platinum FM
  • Rochiram Paramand Charitable Trust
  • Shine On Foundation
  • Wendy Sammells

Key financials Statement of Comprehensive Income – For the Year Ended 30 June 2019.

Revenue 2019 2018
Fundraising and gifts in wills 9,191,277 11,929,830
Funding for capital purposes 4,312,554 3,318,996
Revenue from merchandise sales 1,233,736 1,579,285
Revenue from the provision of dogs and orientation mobility services 4,051,774 3,303,027
Rental revenue 51,308 60,736
Finance and investment revenue 485,160 225,643
Other income 8,218 94,091
Total Revenue 19,334,027 20,511,608
Expenditure 2019 2018
Fundraising and gift in wills (3,266,484) (3,290,297)
Cost of merchandise sales (1,492,629) (1,841,100)
Cost of provision of dogs and mobility services (10,665,041) (9,359,023)
Community information and public education (2,237,240) (2,243,839)
Corporate services (730,048)  (688,842)
Other expenses (1,690,612) (132,108)
Total Expenditure (20,082,054) (17,555,209)
(Deficit)/surplus before income tax (748,027) 2,956,399
Income tax expense
(Deficit)/surplus for the year  (748,027) 2,956,399
Other comprehensive (loss)/income
Net unrealised gain on re‑measurement of available‑for‑sale financial assets 201,741
Total comprehensive (loss)/income for the year (748,027) 3,158,140

ASSETS 2019 2018
Cash and cash equivalents  12,320,051 10,223,327
Trade and other receivables  1,130,515 1,227,550
Inventories  1,344,313 1,166,215
Financial assets  2,003,196 2,724,711
TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS  16,798,075 15,341,803
Financial assets 855,855 938,333
Property, plant and equipment  6,535,227 8,412,377
Intangible assets
Investment property  1,050,000 1,162,215
TOTAL NON‑CURRENT ASSETS  8,441,082 10,512,925
TOTAL ASSETS  25,239,157 25,854,728

Trade and other payables  716,932 693,089
Provisions  1,247,712 1,037,097
TOTAL CURRENT LIABILITIES  1,964,644 1,730,186
Provisions  54,955 156,957
TOTAL LIABILITIES  2,019,599 1,887,143
NET ASSETS  23,219,558 23,967,585
Reserves  18,557,537 14,799,791
Retained earnings  4,662,021 9,167,794
TOTAL ACCUMULATED FUNDS  23,219,558 23,967,585