A Year In Review
The strength of community during uncertain times.
The past year has seen Guide Dogs and the entire world go through unprecedented challenges. Something we have held on to closely during this time is the incredible bond of the Guide Dogs community – from the Queenslanders living with vision loss we support; to the volunteers, staff and donors who support us all.
A reflection of this wonderful community over the past few months has been in the way you and the rest of the Guide Dogs community have adapted to changes in our service delivery, fundraising and processes. This year we have evolved together, displaying resilience in the face of uncertainty. We cannot thank you enough for your patience and support.
Guide Dogs wouldn’t exist without the generous contributions of the community, who are unshakable in their support. Thank you, for all that you have done and continue to do.
Hear from our President, Richard Anderson OAM.
I am incredibly proud of the Guide Dogs community and the resilience they have shown during the last part of the financial year to ensure we continued the year in the same way we started – achieving great results across the organisation, with our clients at the heart of everything we do.
I want to acknowledge the dedication and stewardship of CEO Michael Kightley and the senior leadership team, who worked alongside the Board to ensure that Guide Dogs stayed on track as we and the rest of the world were faced with the enormous challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
The future impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our organisation – both financially and operationally – are a little unknown as we enter the 2020-21 financial year, but I am confident that the dedication of the entire Guide Dogs team, led by Michael and the senior leadership team, will ensure we continue to offer vital services, while prioritising the health and wellbeing of our clients, supporters, volunteers and staff members.
This year we said farewell to our valued Board Member Raymond Saunders, who is moving into well-deserved retirement. Ray has served on the Board since 2002 and has had an incredible impact on Guide Dogs Queensland. During his nearly 18 years on the Board, Ray took on many roles, including as Vice President until March 2016 and Chairman of the Investment Committee until December 2018. It is thanks to the dedication of people like Ray, and the rest of the Guide Dogs Queensland family, that we are able to continue to grow and evolve.
The official opening of our Veterinary Clinic in March 2020 was the result of a culmination of support from various members of the Guide Dogs community and is a reflection of what is possible when we work together to achieve our goals. In August 2019, we also officially opened the Memorial Garden which is a beautiful space that not only recognises past Guide Dogs, but is also a special tribute to our generous legacy donors who make so much of what we do possible.
Financially, we were able to remain stable and Guide Dogs was voted as Australia’s Most Trusted Charity in Reader’s Digest’s Most Trusted Brand Awards for 2020. This is the seventh time since 2013 Guide Dogs have been awarded this title and it is testament to our incredible community support.
Thank you to donors, supporters, volunteers, staff and the Guide Dogs community for your continued dedication in providing vital services to Queenslanders living with vision loss.
Richard Anderson OAM
A word from our CEO.
This year we have experienced significant challenges from the coronavirus pandemic impacting us from March 2020. We have had to adapt to ensure we can continue offering support and services to Queenslanders living with vision loss. Sadly the negative impact is ongoing and will impact the current financial year both operationally and financially.
We are extremely grateful to the Guide Dogs community for their support during this time. One important change came from using telehealth to provide services from Orientation and Mobility to Occupational Therapy and Counselling via video and phone platforms. The success of this technology will be used to expand our services and support in regional and remote areas.
Over 90% of our annual operating revenue comes from donations. While many of our supporters were adversely impacted by the economic impacts of the virus, many more were able to continue their support to our organisation. So while we experienced significant setbacks across our events and community based fundraising programs, and this is likely to continue, we have also experienced very strong support for our lotteries and mail appeals. Queenslanders also continued to leave generous gifts to Guide Dogs in their Wills, which greatly assists us in this challenging period.
This year we also celebrated a huge milestone – 60 years of Guide Dogs Queensland providing vital services to people with vision loss. We are thrilled to celebrate 60 years but our focus remains on working to ensure that we can continue to provide these services for the next 60 years and beyond.
After years of campaigning, the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill was passed in Queensland Parliament, meaning Queenslanders living with vision loss will be able to apply for disability parking permits from 31 August 2020.
Over the past financial year we placed 17 Guide Dogs, and assisted 719 Queenslanders across the state. Despite challenges, we also continued to expand and grow internally, implementing new learning programs to improve workplace culture and wellness initiatives.
We had 61 promising puppies born in the Guide Dogs Nursery, supported through their journey by our wonderful nursery team, veterinary staff, and canine services team.
Moving into the next financial year, we remain focused on adapting to any and all challenges so that we can grow and continue to offer vital services to Queenslanders living with vision loss.
Chief Executive Officer
Hear from our Patron
A message from our Patron.
It gives me great pleasure as Governor and Patron of Guide Dogs Queensland to provide this message of support for the 2019/2020 Annual Report.
The extraordinary bond between dog and owner forged at Guide Dogs Queensland enables independence and transforms the lives of those with vision loss. The capacity of the organisation to turn lives around requires the dedication of many – trainers, volunteers, staff, administrators and supporters.
The past year has been filled with excitement and challenges for Guide Dogs Queensland. March 2020 saw the realisation of years of planning with the opening of the on-site veterinary clinic. Generous donations and active fundraising have ensured this clinic has all necessary equipment to provide routine and emergency care. How comforting for owners, trainers and carers to know their precious canine companions will receive such excellent care in familiar surrounds.
Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19, 17 guide dogs were placed over the past financial year. The pandemic also presented Guide Dogs Queensland with the difficult task of safely providing services, including orientation and mobility training, occupational therapy and counselling. The organisation adapted quickly and engaged Queenslanders across the State using telehealth. The success of this latter trial has conceived a plan for the future expansion of Guide Dogs Queensland into more regional areas, further advancing the organisation’s important Statewide mission.
I sincerely thank Guide Dogs Queensland and their supporters for their resilience and innovation during 2019/2020 and may I wish the community a safe and prosperous year ahead.
Paul de Jersey
Governor of Queensland
Patron of Guide Dogs Queensland
The Impact Your Support Has Made
At Guide Dogs, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live the life they want.
It is through lived experience and shared knowledge that we can see the road ahead. We understand that independence gives people the freedom to enjoy life, embrace new experiences and achieve
Our services are delivered by highly skilled professionals who can provide assessments, training and equipment to make life easier at home, school, work, and in the community.
Our incredible supporters
Sharing the stories of some of our incredible supporters.
Spaceframe’s incredible impact
“Guide Dogs was close to mum’s heart, so we first started fundraising in her memory.”
Ray and Coral’s trail of love
“The difference a guide dog makes to a person’s life is incredible. There are many ways we can support someone who is blind, but to be able to give them a guide dog is truly special. It is a gift of independence, of confidence, and the ability to live the life they choose. And that is priceless.”
Opening of the Memorial Garden
The Memorial Garden opened in August 2019.
It is a space to recognise the loyalty and dedication of retired guide dogs, and generous supporters who left legacy gifts in their Will to aid future projects at Guide Dogs.
The space is also used as a relaxing meeting place for staff, volunteers, and clients.
It’s thanks to the visionary generosity of our Legacy Givers that we are able to complete life-changing projects and provide support to people living with vision loss. We hope that the Memorial Garden can honor and celebrate this every day.
In 2019/2020 we received donations of $1,000 – $500,000 from the estates of our Legacy Givers and we are so incredibly grateful for this support.
We opened our very own on-site Vet Clinic!
It has long been our dream to build an on-site vet clinic.
Thanks to incredible community support this dream became a reality when the doors of the Vet Clinic officially opened in March.
An on-site Vet Clinic has long been the goal – not only offering the very best healthcare to our dogs, but also as a way to significantly reduce the costs associated with external veterinary clinics.
Advocating for Queenslanders with Vision Loss
Guide Dogs has been fighting for many years for the legislation to be changed to allow people with vision loss to be eligible for a Disability Parking Permit in Queensland.
Our campaign really gained momentum in late 2019 and the early part of 2020.
Guide Dogs thanks Queenslanders with vision loss who shared their stories of frightening “near misses” in carparks and reinforced the importance of this issue.
Celebrating 60 Years!
2020 was a special year for us at Guide Dogs Queensland.
2020 marked 60 years since the first Committee meeting of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of Queensland was held.
Much has changed in the past 60 years and one thing that has always held importance is our commitment to helping people with vision loss.
A party song by Peter Vance
In celebration of our 60th Birthday, Peter Vance, a well-regarded singer, songwriter and member of the the Guide Dogs community has written a very special birthday song just for Guide Dogs!
The support we have received
Throughout the past year we have received incredible support from Puppy Sponsors, Philanthropic Grants, Philanthropists, Community Supporters, Corporate Supporters and Volunteer Optometrists.
Pictured is one of our Corporate Partners, Cornetts, who visited the Training Centre for a special meet and greet with our ‘H’ litter pups.
We are so grateful for the incredible support we have received throughout the past year from all our sponsors, supporters and partners – we simply couldn’t do what we do without you.
Thank you to our incredible volunteers
Laurie Dunn will celebrate his 80th birthday later this year.
Laurie has spent more than a quarter of his life volunteering, fundraising, and donating to improve the lives of Queenslanders with vision loss.
Laurie is one of 605 volunteers that has dedicated his time and love to volunteering at Guide Dogs throughout the past 12 months.
This year marked special milestones for many of our volunteers who have been a part of our community for 10, 15 and 20 years. We are so thankful for the time, dedication and support of these incredibly generous volunteers.
Our Board Members
Our Board Members are hard-working, caring, and passionate about our cause.
They have a wide range of expertise, especially in the areas of law, economics, property, finance, fundraising and healthcare.
The Guide Dogs Board has worked hard to ensure that Guide Dogs stayed on track as we and the rest of the world were faced with the enormous challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.