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10 July, 2017

Aboriginal Elder to visit Guide Dogs stand at Mudgee Field Days

Aunty Mary walks down a country road with her long cane and beside her Orientation & Mobility Specialist, Gavin.

In celebration of the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days’ 40th anniversary, the community is invited to drop by the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT stand in the Founders Pavilion to meet Aboriginal Elder Aunty Mary Hooker.

Aunty Mary is encouraging residents living in Central NSW having trouble getting around due to vision loss, or those who know someone who is, to visit the Guide Dogs stand to find out about the organisation’s local services that are provided at no cost.

After losing her sight to diabetes, Aunty Mary regained her independence through the orientation and mobility services provided by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

“Guide Dogs came to my home to teach me cane training. They taught me how to get to the shops, cross the road safely and move around my community on my own,” Aunty Mary said.

“I wouldn’t have gained my confidence without the free training and support from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. I now have a cane in Aboriginal colours – it makes me feel proud.”

Guide Dogs hopes Aunty Mary’s presence at the Field Days will raise awareness of the variety of ways the organisation can help people experiencing vision loss remain active and independent.

“While we're known for our Guide Dogs and puppies, we're attending the Field Days to highlight our most common program, which is teaching people valuable skills to help them safely move around

their environment, using a range of mobility aids like the long cane and electronic devices,” Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager, Regina Renfree said.

Ms Renfree also stressed that Guide Dogs Orientation & Mobility Specialists travel to wherever their services are required. 

“We come to you, wherever that may be - your home, your workplace, your school or university – helping you learn to find your way around your particular environment is a top priority.”

With the prevalence of vision loss increasing across the country, the Field Days will help Guide Dogs highlight their need for financial support to meet the growing demand for services.

“Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with vision loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who will become blind,” Ms Renfree said.

“As we receive less than two per cent of our funding needs from the government, we rely on the public's generosity to fund our services, which are all provided at no cost to those who need them.”

Guide Dogs branded merchandise will be on sale at the Field Days and staff will be available to discuss other ways the public can support the organisation, such as signing up to become a Puppy Pal.

“As a Puppy Pal, your monthly donation will help transform our playful puppies into highly-trained, working Guide Dogs. You'll get to share the puppies' joys, triumphs and mishaps as they train for their new career,” Ms Renfree said.

Puppy Pals receive invitations to exclusive events and regular updates through a special ‘Pupdates’ newsletter, which includes lots of photos and details on how the puppies are progressing on their journey to becoming life-changing Guide Dogs.

For more information about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s free, local services visit www.guidedogs.com.au or contact their regional office in Orange on 6362 6625.