Our highlights of 2019
As the New Year approaches, we're wrapping up 2019 with a reflection on some of our highlights from the past 12 months.
Despite the challenging new environment presented by the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the cessation of Commonwealth block funding for our programs and services, there were many opportunities to celebrate and connect with our community.
This year we continued to provide high-quality Vision Services for our clients, resulting in a 98% client satisfaction rating. The team at our social enterprise, Beau's Pet Hotel, also maintained an outstanding customer satisfaction rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 for their trusted and professional care.
Here are some of our favourite moments from 2019:
Celebrating International Guide Dog Day
On 24 April, more than 300 clients, volunteers, staff and supporters celebrated International Guide Dog Day with our iconic Paws Parade through Adelaide.
Following the parade, we held a ceremony in the Governor's Gardens to celebrate our graduating client and dog teams and to honour our retiring dogs.
We also recognised a record number of businesses as 'Friends of Guide Dogs' for their commitment to supporting access and inclusion for our clients, volunteers and dogs. See the highlights of our celebration.
All rise for Zero, our hero
The past year saw us embark on an exciting 'first' for our dog program - and for the South Australian Government - by training the State's first Canine Court Companion, Zero.
Working with the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), Zero provides comfort and support for vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime.
The Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Vickie Chapman praised Zero's innovative role, telling State Parliament that the trial program has already resulted in positive outcomes in more than 40 cases. Learn more about Zero's important role.
Innovating for the future
The International Guide Dog Federation awarded us the Derek Freeman Scholarship to explore initiatives in dog breeding and puppy development. This award enabled our Dog Services team to partner with Guide Dogs colleagues across Australia to implement the STEP Dog Training program which supports innovative training and assessment practices aligned with national standards.
Developing Life Skills for greater independence
This year, a group of young clients with vision impairment travelled from across South Australia and the Northern Territory to participate in the annual Life Skills Camp hosted by our Allied Health team.
Our clients learned skills for improved independence like shopping, cooking and preparing for job interviews, and joined in a range of fun activities including wall climbing at AFL Max and Tai Chi with our Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Chia.
It was amazing to see our young clients build confidence, meet new friends and make memories to last a lifetime. Read more about Life Skills Camp.
Celebrating the C Litter's Graduation
We celebrated the graduation of the C Litter, including Chevy who has been specially trained as a Wheelchair Assistance Dog for client Aaron. The graduation ceremony also offered an opportunity to celebrate several more clients who have recently been matched with our life-changing Guide Dogs and Autism Assistance Dogs. See more highlights from the graduation.
The sky's the limit for our clients
In celebration of our charity partnership with Adelaide Oval, four fearless clients living with vision impairment took on the iconic Adelaide Oval RoofClimb this year.
Zuzia, Sarah, Jody and Simon were joined by staff from Guide Dogs including our Chief Executive Officer, Aaron.
Zuzia described the experience as "a really good reminder that even when you have a disability, you can still accomplish what you aim for." Read more about this amazing experience.
Paws hit the pavement for PAWGUST
Once again, we collaborated with Guide Dogs organisations across Australia to deliver our national fundraising initiative, PAWGUST, for a successful second year. PAWGUST challenges dog owners to walk their dog for 30 minutes for 30 days and ask their family and friends to sponsor them. Learn more about PAWGUST.
Enhancing inclusion with Access2Arts
With support from the City of Adelaide, we partnered with Access2Arts to provide an accessible experience of the 2019 National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant for a group of our clients and their families.
Professional audio description of the pageant was provided by Access2Arts and broadcast live on Radio Adelaide, enabling people with vision impairment to enjoy the iconic celebration alongside their friends and family. Enjoy our highlights from the day.
Saying THANK YOU to our generous supporters
Our second national Thank You Day was held in December and was once again a huge success. In South Australia, many of our staff members spent the day calling more than 1,500 donors to thank them for making our work possible. Watch our Thank You Day video here.
Recognising our dedicated volunteers
In December, we hosted a festive lunch to celebrate the contributions our volunteers have made to Guide Dogs throughout 2019.
This was a perfect opportunity to welcome our new honorary life member, Kate Hallam, in recognition of her valued support and service.
We also celebrated Bev who has handmade more than 500 blankets for our puppies in training, and presented certificates of appreciation to volunteers who have contributed 5, 10, 15 or 20 years of service to Guide Dogs. Read more about our dedicated volunteers.
As these achievements demonstrate, 2019 held many milestones for our clients, dogs, volunteers and staff.
The year ahead promises plenty more opportunities to continue connecting with our community and working to enhance independence, participation, inclusion and wellbeing for our clients and their families.
Of course, none of this would be possible without our generous donors, supporters and volunteers so THANK YOU!
From everyone at Guide Dogs, we wish you a peaceful and happy festive season.