Aspiring solicitor joins PR team
Wollongong resident talks about her vision loss journey
Law student, Kimberlee Brooker’s passion for animals has driven her to aspire to enter the field of animal law and advocacy when she completes her degree at the University of Wollongong.
Growing up with animals including dogs, cats and horses, Kimberlee, who lost her sight suddenly when she was five, knew she wanted a Guide Dog to help her maintain her independence from a very young age.
“I lost my vision overnight. It took three months for the doctor to diagnose me with Rod Cone Dystrophy, but there is still no explanation of why I lost my sight completely,” Kimberlee said. “Then when I was about the start school, the doctor referred me to Guide Dogs to receive mobility assistance.”
“As I grew older I was keen to get a Guide Dog. I was 14-years-old when I first enquired but decided to wait until once I finished my HSC,” Kimberlee said.
She received Toffee just three days after her last exam.
“Now I couldn’t imagine my life without Toffee,” Kimberlee said. “She has given me so much more confidence to travel and be independent. Not only does she help guide me, but she is such great company.”
Educating the community
Along with spending her days studying for her degree, Kimberlee will now talk more widely about her passion for Guide Dogs, following her appointment as a Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Public Relations Speaker.
As a Public Relations Speaker for Guide Dogs, the leading provider of Guide Dogs and other services that enable people with impaired vision to get around their communities safely and independently, Kimberlee will attend training seminars as well as campaigns and media events in the Wollongong region.
She will visit schools, clubs, seniors and other community groups to talk about her own experience with vision loss, how she manages her life, living with a Guide Dog and the many different ways the organisation assists people who are vision impaired.
“I am looking forward to educating the community about Guide Dogs,” Kimberlee said.
Combining her passion for animals and the law
Now in her second year of study, Kimberlee is hoping to specialise in criminal law and animal law, and always has Toffee by her side.
“I’ve always had animals around me – I currently have four dogs, a cat and horse named Oliver,” she said. “I have been horse riding for about 15 years and even when I am busy at uni, I make sure I brush him and spend time with him. He’s like a big dog!,” she said.
After completing work experience on a farm and then with a District Court judge, Kimberlee knew she had to combine her two passions.
Having Guide Dog, Toffee, has allowed Kimberlee to move independently around the university campus while she completes her studies.
“Guide Dogs provided me with long cane, Mini-Guide and GPS training and now I receive ongoing training with my Guide Dog, particularly in learning the route to new rooms at university which change each semester,” she said.
“My life would not be the way it is without the services provided by Guide Dogs, however without donations from the public, Guide Dogs cannot provide these services.”
Its costs more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train each Guide Dog and with the organisation receiving less than two per cent of its funding needs from the government, Guide Dogs relies on the generosity of the community to continue offering its services to those who need them at no cost.
Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with uncorrectable vision loss, including nine who become blind.
To book Kimberlee for a talk, please email, speakers [at] guidedogs.com.au