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John Gosling AM recognised on the Australia Day Honours list as he celebrates 50 years of working with Guide Dogs

February 15, 2021
A black and white photo of John Gosling training a yellow Labrador

John Gosling AM, often referred to as the ‘Elder Statesman of Guide Dogs’ in Australia has been honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to people who are blind or have low vision in the same week he will celebrate 50 years of working with Australia’s Most Trusted Charity.

Tuesday 2 February will mark the Guide Dog Instructors five decade anniversary working from the Guide Dogs Victoria campus in Kew, Melbourne; his work significantly contributing to the charity’s growth nationally, as well the Guide Dog movement on an international scale.

John decided age 16 that he would spend his life working with Guide Dogs but had to wait six long years to turn the then minimum application age of 22. In that time, he was called up for national service and served in Vietnam. He even wore his army uniform to his Guide Dogs interview upon his return, hoping that it would help secure him the job.

In the 50 years since, John can’t put an exact figure on the ‘thousands’ of life changing Guide Dogs and Clients he has directly or indirectly has worked with. What is certain is the integral role he has played in the organisation expanding its services beyond the much loved and iconic Guide Dog – to now providing a wide range of services to enhance the independence of people living with low vision or blindness.

When asked what he is most proud of from his half-century tenure, John doesn’t point to one single personal achievement. Instead he says, “It’s the freedom and independence Guide Dogs help bring to people with low vision or blindness. Experiencing the trust Clients place in our staff and in our beautiful, dedicated dogs is a real honour.”

Reflecting on his legacy, he also takes great pride in the dedicated teams of Guide Dog Instructors and Orientation and Mobility Instructors he has helped train and guide through their careers. “These people are now based all around the world in the UK, Asia, Scandinavia and USA, and also here in Australia making a difference,” John says.

“Thank you John for your invaluable contribution to the Guide Dog movement and dedication over 50 years. Your Order of Australia is so richly deserved, and your legacy truly immeasurable,” said Karen Hayes, CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria.

Some of John’s career highlights include:

  • In 1992, invited to become the second Accreditation Assessor of the newly formed International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF). In this role, John assessed 24 applicant Guide Dog Schools against International Standards in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Norway, France, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Israel, Slovakia Republic, the United States of America and China.
  • Elected three times to the Board of the International Guide Dog Federation.
  • In 2001, awarded the Order of Australia (OAM).
  • In 2003, awarded the Keith Holdsworth Perpetual Award for services to the Guide Dog and Orientation & Mobility Instructors profession by the Orientation & Mobility Instructors Association of Australasia.
  • From 2015 to 2018, chaired to the IGDF Development Committee and lead the development of an Orientation & Mobility Short Course in Prague and the first South American Guide Dog Seminar in Brazil.
  • Recipient of the 2018 International Guide Dog Federation, Ken Lord Award for exceptional services to the International Guide Dog Movement.


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