Introducing our Interim CEO, Iain Edwards
Until the end of 2022, I will be the Interim CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV). Appointed to the GDV Board in June 2011, I am also a physiotherapist with thirty years’ experience in the public health system across both rural and metropolitan health services, including for the last five years as the Operations Director of Peninsula Health’s community services.
I was first diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, and I have been involved with Guide Dogs Victoria as a Client since early 1993; completing my Orientation and Mobility Training with my first Guide Dog in 1995. I am currently partnered with eight-year-old Olympia. In my spare time, I am a keen adventurer and my favourite hike (so far!) was the Inca Trail in Peru.
I recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to Government House to discuss our ongoing priorities and the patronage of Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and her husband Mr Anthony Howard AM QC. I am very pleased to report that her Excellency and Mr Howard will be continuing in their roles as Joint Patrons of Guide Dogs Victoria; expressing their full backing and steadfast commitment to our organisation and the wider Guide Dogs Victoria community.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for what has been made possible across the last year. With challenges that we have all experienced over the last twelve months, we appreciate your commitment to our mission and for standing by our side as we work to achieve it.
It’s great to be on board as Interim CEO, and I hope you enjoy the updates enclosed in the latest issue of Guide Dog Tales.
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Guide Dogs Victoria
Murray’s long-term interest in social work has led him through different fields, from aged care, support worker, teacher in the disability sector, an active member in a support group and more recently a university student of a social science degree.
In 2017, Murray lost his vision due to glaucoma and optical neuritis. Six months later, he got in contact with Guide Dogs.
Although he had bad Myopia since he was five years old, and been told from early on that his vision was going to deteriorate, losing his sight was still “extremely difficult,” says Murray, adding: “I spent a lot of time at home, waiting on a daily basis for my flatmate to arrive from work.”
Initially, he received Orientation and Mobility Services at Guide Dogs, becoming a proficient cane user, able to confidently navigate his surroundings, cross streets, and use public transport. Murray has also received lessons in different types of Assistive Technology available to him.
In 2018, Murray received his first Guide Dog Karli, a black Labrador who has been “a real life changer.”
“Before receiving Karli, it would take me half an hour to reach the main shopping centre in town using the cane. After Karli, it took me just 10 minutes! I felt a lot more comfortable, a lot safer and more secure with her.”
Since starting their partnership, Murray has gone from strength to strength, reaching many significant goals. In 2019, he completed a Diploma in Community Services / Case Management at TAFE, the following year he completed a Diploma in Mental Health and in 2021 Murray started a Bachelor of Social Work, achieving credits and distinctions throughout his first year!
“With my Guide Dog I have been able to travel independently to the city, without anyone leading me around. My most significant changes are the amount of independence and confidence I have now to get out in the community.”
“Without a Guide Dog I just don’t know where I’d be…All the systems Guide Dogs has provided for me have been amazing.”
Guide Dogs Victoria has joined forces with BindiMaps, supported by Wyndham City Council to install new navigation technology at Pacific Werribee Shopping Centre.
We have been working to ensure the local Wyndham community is more accessible for people with disability and enable them to lead full, independent lives.
The installation was made possible by a Community Strengthening Grant from Wyndham City Council, which is dedicated to making local, public spaces easier and more efficient for everyone in the community to navigate.
BindiMaps is a smartphone app that uses wayfinding beacon technology to enable people with low vision or blindness to navigate complicated indoor spaces with confidence. It uses a simple language audio system to describe where users are and what’s around them, and the best way to get to their chosen destination.
Soundscape is a navigation app that plays directional sounds.
AIRA is an app that connects a user via iPhone camera to an agent who can provide visual assistance or guidance.
Bose Audio sunglasses, a schmick pair of sungalsses with in-built speakers so users can hear locations in 360 degrees.
Accessibility tools such as Voice Over screen reader on iPhone, ZoomText and JAWS on the computer.
Miniguide allows users to detect fences and other obstacles when they get too close.
Do you remember Kenzo?
We first introduced Kenzo back in December of 2020 and we wanted to give you an update on how the aptly named Director of Happiness is going. While COVID-19 restrictions slowed down Kenzo’s ability to attend Peninsula Health, we are happy to report that Kenzo is now back at work!
He is always there to lend a helping paw and provide support to children and staff through the hospital. Kenzo’s most important stop every morning is the Emergency Department where he brings some much needed smiles to the faces there – and in return he gets tonnes of pats and treats!
There are many different career paths that our dogs can take, all of which play a part in enriching the lives of people in the community.
If you would like to learn more about our Therapy Dogs Program, please click the link below.
From hopeful pup to doting mother
Breeding Dog Anne was named in honour of a supporter who left a gift their Will to Guide Dogs Victoria. Anne came from a very small litter born to first time mum Cleo, who was also named in honour of a supporter who left a gift in their Will to Guide Dogs.
Puppy Raiser Jeanette had the privilege of raising Guide Dog pup, Anne, since 2021, back when Anne was just seven weeks old.
Anne’s only sibling, Matt, is training to become a Guide Dog, so you could say this litter is very high calibre!
Jeanette says: “Ever since Anne came to me as a very young puppy, she just showed the signs of going all the way, either as a Guide Dog or going into the Breeding Program.”
Jeanette says Anne was such a delight to raise, ever wishing to comply with whatever was asked of her.
“Anne loves to walk very proudly around the house with a toy hanging out of her mouth and a smile on her face. She has such a calming nature and we are sure she will make a wonderful mum to future Guide Dog puppies,” adds Jeanette.
If you would like to learn more about leaving a gift in your Will and have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy and name one of our gorgeous pups, please contact Jaime Nyberg on 9372 4173.
Centre for Eye Health
Looking to the future – looking after your eye health
William Shakespeare once said: “He that is strucken blind cannot forget, the precious treasure of his eyesight lost.”
If we ask people which sense they fear losing most, overwhelmingly the leading response is eyesight. In fact, a researcher in the US who confirmed this, also added that “having good vision is key to one’s overall sense of wellbeing”. As a result, looking after your eyes is just as important as looking after the rest of your body, especially as we age – but what does that involve?
For the most part if you are less than 60 years of age it is recommended to have your eyes examined comprehensively at least every two years and annually if you are older. Your eye care practitioner may advise you to have more frequent eye examinations if you are at higher risk of eye disease such as having a systemic illness like diabetes or a family history of eye disease.
Regardless, if you are noticing a change in your vision, you should have it investigated promptly.
Importantly however, eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration can develop with minimal or no symptoms so that by the time we do notice a problem the condition may be advanced, with irreversible damage. The sooner a problem is identified, the better the prognosis.
As well as eye disease, careful eye examinations can also sometimes uncover an undiagnosed systemic illness which would otherwise go untreated and cause significant damage to your body. In addition, many chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure can have a significant impact on the health of the eye, especially if they are poorly controlled. This is another reason why it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and manage those conditions optimally.
Ultimately, as with most health-related conditions, when it comes to the eyes, “prevention is better than a cure”.
“Eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration can develop with minimal or no symptoms so that by the time we do notice a problem the condition may be advanced, with irreversible damage.”
Piper visits the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group
Last year, we were thrilled to welcome Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG) to our Guide Dog Partner Program. AGIG have sponsored Piper and are enjoying watching her journey to become a life-changing Guide Dog.
The Guide Dog Partner Program gives both corporations and individuals the opportunity to follow the progress of a pup on their Guide Dog journey, and play a key role in supporting the Guide Dogs of the future. Rachael Tamme, Community Engagement Advisor at AGIG said: “Sponsoring a Guide Dog puppy meant that we could support Guide Dogs Victoria in ensuring that people with low vision or blindness are active and involved members of their community. Throughout her journey, we received regular updates about Piper, letting us know how she settled in with her volunteer Puppy Raiser and how she was progressing. AGIG supports not-for-profits and organisations that align with our Vision and Values through our Community Partnerships Program. Together we are building brighter futures for people, which is a key focus of our sponsorship program. And who doesn’t love a Labrador puppy?!”
We were thrilled to take Piper for a visit to AGIG recently. The joy that her visit brought to the team was evident by the room of smiles.
To find out more about our Corporate Partnership Program, please contact Fiona Macmillan, Corporate and Community Fundraising Manger on 0447 657 215.
Martin Parker, iconic community fundraising group Kurri Mongrels’ spokesperson, shared the group’s cycling exploits as they enthusiastically raised funds for Guide Dogs all throughout the past financial year.
Martin is the granddad of Stella, a beautiful young Guide Dogs Client who herself is an avid fundraiser for Guide Dogs, having raised thousands over the years through her Rainbow Day and Pot Plant fundraisers. Together, the Kurri Mongrels have cycled far and wide and held many events to support Guide Dogs’ work.
Stella sang at one event, which was a lovely gesture, and the more than $10,000 raised will go towards an outdoor accessible instrument to go in the Guide Dogs Kew Campus Orchestral Garden, due for completion shortly. We look forward to welcoming the Kurri Mongrels down in Victoria when the Garden opens – perhaps a ride from Newcastle to Melbourne is on the cards?
Spring health for dogs
Coming into spring, we start to think about how lovely it is to see all the new buds opening up. Although pretty to look at, some of these flowers can be quite toxic to animals, especially dogs.
Puppies love to explore everything with their mouths so are at most risk, but some adult dogs will eat plants, too. Below are a couple of plants that have caused problems for our Guide Dog puppies. Luckily, they have seen a vet quickly, and we have not lost any of our pups to these plants.
The Brunsfelsia is commonly known as the “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” plant. Some dogs will become attracted to the plant because of the flowers, but eating any part of this plant, especially the flowers and berries, can cause vomiting, seizures and death.
Guide Dog puppy Noah was four months old when he and his pet brother decided it would be fun to try eating the seeds of the Sago palm. The spiky leaves didn’t deter them from getting to the bright red seeds in the middle, and both needed a trip to the emergency centre. All cycad plants are toxic and can cause liver damage days after they have been eaten. Luckily Noah and his brother recovered.
There are many lists online of toxic plants, which are useful if you are adding plants to your backyard, but if you think your dog has eaten plants it is best to call your local vet to discuss.
We are thrilled to share that PAWGUST 2022 has been another PAWsome campaign!
Almost 8,000 people braved the chilly weather nationally, overall raising over $1 million for Guide Dogs Australia!
Thank you to everyone who committed to either walking or running at least 30 minutes a day for the entire month of August. The vital funds that we raised will go towards the breeding, raising and training of our iconic Guide Dogs and change the lives many people living with low vision or blindness across Australia.
Thanks for your support of PAWGUST and we look forward to seeing you pull on the winter woollies and getting out there again next year!
Protecting your best friend
What to do… daily.
Search your dog for ticks by running your hands through their coat to the skin level, all over their body (even between their toes and around their mouth.) Your dog will love his daily massage!
What to do… monthly.Tick-proof your home to reduce exposure to ticks by clearing leaf litter and keeping grass clipped short.
What to do… all year round.
Use an effective tick control product such as NexGard SPECTRA® all year round. We give our dogs NexGard SPECTRA® once a month, 12 months of the year. It provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty chew. Try giving it to your dog or puppy on the first day of the month – that way it’s easy to remember.
Huge shout-out to Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia who provide complete preventative health support for our puppies and adult dogs, with the ongoing provision of NexGard SPECTRA® and canine vaccines.
Make a difference every time you shop at IGA!
The Ritchies IGA Community Benefits Program is changing. With a new-look app with more exciting features it’s now easier than ever to support Guide Dogs.
If you are a current IGA member, log into your account at loyalty.ritchies.com.au to update your account. If you would like to get involved, you can also register using the link above and select Guide Dogs as your charity of choice.
Together we can change lives!
Give the PAWfect Present this year!
This year we have teamed up with our FURiends at Guide Dogs Queensland to bring you the full Guide Dogs merchandise range available online at: guidedogs.com.au/pawfectpresents.
Every product you buy supports Guide Dogs Victoria puppies in training on their journey to become Guide Dogs.
Ordering is easy!
- Visit guidedogs.com.au/pawfectpresents.
- Shop the full range of merchandise and select your favourite gift for you or your loved ones.
- Make your secure purchase.
Place your order by Thursday 1 December to receive your items in time for Christmas! Our office will be shut from close of business Thursday 22 December 2022 until Monday 9 January 2023. Any orders received during this period will be fulfilled after 9 January.
If you have any questions about your existing order, please call 1800 007 460.
The PETstock team show how PETspired they really are!
Supporting Guide Dogs Australia since 2014, the Petspiration Foundation (formerly PETstock Assist, the charity arm of the Petspiration Group) has raised more than $500,000 – and their support keeps coming.
Team members passionately donate through Workplace Giving; a simple, tax-effective way to give to Guide Dogs. Workplace Giving allows people to support Guide Dogs in a very real way, providing long-term, sustainable income.
As a major national partner of PAWGUST, Petspiration team members were also encouraged to get fit and active during winter, pounding the pavement 30 minutes a day over the 31 days of August to raise funds for Guide Dog puppies in training. What a great way to get fit and give back!
PETstock stores were a haven of activity and support this PAWGUST with customers able to purchase products that supported Guide Dogs, donate directly or round up their purchases. All amazing ways to support Guide Dogs in their quest to help our Clients – people living with low vision or blindness – achieve their goals.
The lives of some of these Clients were highlighted in the hugely successful new online docuseries, Born to Lead, another Guide Dogs initiative proudly supported by the Petspiration Group.
“Our corporate partners continue to amaze us with their creativity, passion and desire to help in a multitude of ways. We are incredibly thankful to have the support of the Petspiration Foundation – and the many people across the nation who choose to donate. Their support helps our Clients live their lives without limits.” Iain Edwards, Interim CEO, Guide Dogs Victoria.
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Your generosity is the driving force behind our life-changing support. Thank you for your vital contribution.