The Department of Human Services supported Guide Dogs Australia during May, with a month long fundraising campaign to suggest a name for a Guide Dog puppy.
Exceeding their fundraising target of $10 000, over $19 000 was raised for the organisation. The money will be used to help breed, raise and train Guide Dogs to be placed with people who are vision impaired or blind.
The department’s General Manager Hank Jongen says supporting charities is important for workplace culture.
“We support a range of charities throughout the year to help the most the vulnerable people in our community.”
“Our staff always go above and beyond in the work they do to deliver payments and services to Australians, and are extremely generous. I’m not surprised we exceeded our fundraising target,” Hank said.
Guide Dogs work 24 hours a day with complete focus, ignoring all distractions and always walking in a straight line to help their owners avoid obstacles.
They make life or death decisions every day for their owner, who must have complete faith and trust in them.
Sophie Wild, Customer and Brand Manager from the Victorian branch of Guide Dogs Australia says having a Guide Dog transforms someone’s life.
“The difference Guide Dogs make in someone’s life is incredible. They give their owners independence and freedom,” Sophie said.
“It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live in our world, which is such a visual world, and not be able to see very well or at all.
“It can be incredibly scary for people, and Guide Dogs allow them to feel safe and participate in society in a way they might not be able to otherwise. Guide Dogs open up someone’s world.”
As well as giving their owners more independence, Sophie says owning a Guide Dog has emotional benefits.
“The dogs are also very therapeutic, particularly where someone may have experienced a sudden vision loss and are experiencing some anxiety or depression,” Sophie said.
“We’ve had people tell us having a Guide Dog helps them have more social interactions. People stop and talk to them about their dog. It helps them feel included.”
Guide Dogs Australia provides a vital service for people with vision impairments or who are blind, but Helen Trussler, Partnership Development Manager says it doesn’t come cheap.
“Currently it costs $35,000 to train a Guide Dog,” Helen said.
“Fundraising is critical for our organisation, because without it, we wouldn’t be able to deliver most of our services.”
“And we don’t just train dogs. We have a children’s program which starts from an early age. They participate in adventure camps which helps with socialisation.
“We also work with their parents to educate them about how they can help their child have confidence as they get older.”
Helen says all the hard work and funding that goes into their dogs and other programs is worth it to see the difference it makes in people’s lives.
“The dogs are amazing creatures, very intelligent and we’re very proud of the work we do,” she said.
“We know we change lives. Guide Dogs do change lives.”
Staff from the department recently met two Guide Dog puppies and learnt more about the charity they were fundraising for. Watch the video:
Read more about Guide Dogs Australia.