Celebrating International Guide Dog Day 2023!
On Wednesday 26 April 2023, more than 150 people joined Guide Dogs SA/NT to celebrate International Guide Dog Day on the lawns of Government House.
Hosted by Guide Dogs SA/NT Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia and, Mr Bunten. The Labrador-filled garden party was an opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs and Facility Dogs, as well as those currently training and those who have retired or passed away.
The morning started with a Welcome to Country from Cliffy Wilson, a proud Kaurna, Narungga, Ngarrindjeri, Ngadjuri and Arrente man. The Governor also welcomed Cliffy and attendees to Government House in Kaurna language.
We were thrilled to welcome many of our Clients, Puppy Raisers, Buddies for Life, Major Donors, Life Members, Corporate Supporters and Board Members, along with special guests The Hon Nat Cook, Minister for Human Services, Rhiannon Pearce MP, Member for King, and The Hon Laura Henderson MLC, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Shadow Attorney-General.
International Guide Dog Day provides an opportunity to recognise dogs who have graduated over the past 12 months, those currently in training, and those who have retired or passed away. We also acknowledge our team of clinicians who have travelled far and wide across South Australia and the Northern Territory in the last 12 months, supporting communities in regional areas.
“Over last financial year, we had 125 dogs on the program including pups in training, those placed as a working Guide Dog, Assistance Dog, or Facility Dog that work in areas like schools, the airport, and supporting vulnerable victims and witnesses of crime. Today’s event is about showing our appreciation,” Mr Chia said.
We also launched our new education campaign, Talk to the Handler. In a recent Australian survey, half of all respondents were unaware of the rights of handlers and the correct protocols for approaching a working dog.
“Many people are overwhelmed by the loveable nature of a Guide Dog, and we would like them to stop and think before they interact, to ensure the dog can undertake its work, as we would in an office or in other workplace environments,” Guide Dogs SA/NT CEO Aaron Chia said.
The event gave our community the opportunity to hear from Guide Dogs clients about the impact of being matched with a dog.
Vision-impaired university student Alana Tiller, who was recently paired with her first Guide Dog, Rocket, shared her story of how Rocket has given her the confidence to attend lectures in-person and participate in uni life with her peers. Alana shared that she often walked into obstacles while using a white cane, but Rocket helps her to walk away from them, providing her with a feeling of safety and independence.
Five-time Australian Paralympian Anthony Clarke, who has lived with six Guide Dogs, shared his story about how nothing stops him from making the most of his abilities. Now paired with Guide Dog Kit, Anthony shared many tales of the adventures and accomplishments he has achieved thanks to the freedom of having a Guide Dog.
“It was incredible to hear the impact our services have made for those who are living with low vision, blindness, or other specialised needs. We thank our incredible community of Puppy Raisers, trainers and donors for their generosity and support,” Guide Dogs SA/NT CEO Aaron Chia said.
Guests were thrilled to be introduced to some members of our newest recruits, the J & K Training Group. Although they have only just begun their training, these 12 puppies will go on to support people living with low vision, blindness and other specialised needs to live safely and confidently.
If you would like to support the J & K Training Group’s journey, you can sign up as a Puppy Pal here.
International Guide Dog Day concluded with Adelaide landmarks painting the town orange.
Iconic buildings around Adelaide, including Adelaide Oval, the River Torrens Footbridge, the Adelaide Convention Centre, Parliament House, the Adelaide Railway Station and the Festival Theatre lit up the night sky to celebrate International Guide Dog Day and recognise the support provided to the community by Guide Dogs SA/NT.
We are grateful to our guests for joining us for this special day and extend our thanks to our community for their amazing support.