Guide Dogs Annual Report 2020/2021

image of lindsay, a young boy with a cape and a helmet on, with sunglasses, looking at the camera

President’s Report

Richard Anderson OAM

It has been another successful but challenging year for Guide Dogs Queensland. Adapting to the uncertainty of these past twelve months has required a tremendous effort, but I am pleased to report we remain in a strong financial position and our support for Queenslanders with low vision and blindness remained constant.

Each decision at Guide Dogs continued to be made with clients as our central focus. I want to sincerely thank all staff and volunteers for their perseverance and dedication during this time.

I also thank my fellow Directors for the time and expertise they have devoted to the task of governing Guide Dogs Queensland during this unprecedented period. As is good governance practice, our Board has undergone a process of renewal this year to ensure a good balance continues between experienced Directors and those with new skills and fresh perspectives.

We welcomed Tom du Preez to the Board earlier in the year. Tom is a Chartered Accountant and Management Accountant and brings with him extensive local and international experience as an auditor and advisor to companies in a variety of industries.

A new appointment to the Board was also made at the very end of the year, being Lydia Daly. Lydia is a highly accomplished workplace lawyer with extensive experience across the public and private sectors.

All bring exceptional skills to the Board and we look forward to their contributions in 2022.

Guide Dogs Queensland Board President, Richard Anderson OAM, standing outside holding an eight week old caramel labrador puppy. Richard is looking at the camera smiling.

Alongside those recent Director appointments, we farewelled two of our valued and longserving board members, Lynette Reynolds and Arif Ali. Lynette was appointed to the Board in November 2009 and served as Company Secretary and as a member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee. Arif was appointed as a Director in July 2010 and has served on both the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee and the Investment Committee. Arif has been a Life Member of Guide Dogs for over 20 years. I thank Lynette and Arif for their many years of dedicated service.

Following endorsement at the 2020 Annual General Meeting, our organisational name has now been officially changed to Guide Dogs Queensland Limited (formerly Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of Queensland). This aligns our registered business and trading names and more closely reflects how we are known by our supporters and the general public.

At the same time, we also updated our constitution to ensure it remains a relevant and effective governance document for the organisation.

I would also like to thank our donors and volunteer fundraisers, who stayed with us throughout the year. We continue to be inspired by your unwavering support.

It is a privilege to be a part of a community of donors, supporters, volunteers and staff who are so dedicated to supporting Queenslanders with low vision and blindness to live the life they choose.

Thank you for your contribution in whatever form it takes. With your ongoing support, I am confident in the organisation’s ability to adapt, both financially and operationally, to the ongoing impacts of the Coronavirus.

Richard Anderson OAM
President

CEO's Message

Michael Kightley

Despite the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Guide Dogs Queensland remained focused and stable this past year thanks to the support of our Board, our staff and our incredible community of Guide Dogs supporters.

The continued use of innovative work practices developed at the start of the pandemic has served us well, ensuring ongoing support and services for our clients through every challenge they faced. Using both video and phone platforms, our telehealth appointments have produced wonderful results and good feedback from our clients, especially in regional areas.

Even with the ongoing pandemic restrictions and challenges, we placed 24 Guide Dogs and provided programs and assistance to over 500 individuals and their families across the state this past financial year. We also continued to expand and grow internally, prioritising workplace wellness and a culture of connection during this isolating time.

With a growing demand for services across Queensland, we welcomed to our team a dedicated Assistive Technology Specialist, another Guide Dog Mobility Instructor and multiple Occupational Therapists to continue supporting clients across Queensland.

We also continued work with the Department of Transport & Main Roads and various other organisations to advocate for accessibility. This work is integral to supporting people with low vision and blindness so they can feel safe and included in their local communities.

Our new Client Liaison Committee is actively meeting and serving as a vital connection between our organisation and clients, sharing positive, constructive feedback on our services and discussing new initiatives for the future.

Guide Dogs Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Michael Green. Michael is holding an eight week old yellow labrador puppy and they are both looking at the camera. Michael is smiling.

We had 104 promising puppies born in the Guide Dogs Nursery, supported through their journey by our wonderful nursery team, volunteer raisers and boarders, veterinary staff, and the canine services team.

Despite the pandemic, we were also able to run our first ever Giving Day in April. This new fundraising event used an online platform, pre-confirmed gifts and calls to supporters from volunteers to raise additional donations from our community of supporters. Well done to everyone involved.

We also experienced strong continued support for our lotteries and our Gifts in Wills programs. Despite the decline in cash usage during 2020, Queenslanders still put lots of coins and notes into our iconic collection dogs in shopping centres all over the state, raising over $800,000 from this program last financial year.

As we look forward, we remain focused on adapting to change and challenges, so we can continue delivering on our mission – to provide vital services and support to Queenslanders living with low vision and blindness. It is thanks to the community’s generosity that we can continue achieving this and changing lives for the better.

Michael Kightley
Chief Executive Officer

Patron's Message

Honourable Paul de Jersey AC CVO

As Patron of Guide Dogs Queensland, it gives me great pleasure to provide this message of support to an organisation that continually delivers exceptional services and unwavering assistance to Queenslanders with vision and mobility loss.

While 2020/2021 has been a challenging year, it also highlighted the trusted and vital connection to community Guide Dogs Queensland has developed over its 60 plus years of operation.

The outstanding results of the first ever Guide Dogs Queensland Giving Day in April 2021 underscores the generosity of the many individuals and businesses in our State who share a deep appreciation for the freedom and independence that Guide Dogs Queensland provides. I am particularly pleased that 24 newly trained Guide Dogs could be placed, despite COVID-19 challenges.

Governor of Queensland, Paul de Jersey AC, holding an eight week old yellow labrador puppy. His Excellency is smiling while looking at the camera.

This past year has also seen Guide Dogs Queensland expand its team of instructors, including welcoming an Assistive Technology Specialist. This commitment to expertise and innovation ensures that services are tailored to individual needs.

On behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate Guide Dogs Queensland, its Board, staff and dedicated volunteers for ensuring that people with vision loss are given the support they need to confidently pursue their goals.

Honourable Paul de Jersey AC CVO
Governor of Queensland
Patron of Guide Dogs Queensland

The impact your support has made

At Guide Dogs, we believe that anyone of any age and at any stage of their journey should have access to support.

People of all ages and at all stages of their lives can experience low vision or blindness. At Guide Dogs, we are passionate about providing support tailored to each individual’s needs and goals.

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.

Regardless of where you are in your journey, we’ll be by your side, every step of the way.

 

image of Lindsay

From trekking the Larapinta Trail to high teas in the mall, your support made great things possible.

The challenge of a lifetime

Lisa McEwan and Nicole Forbes didn’t let having low vision stop them from taking on a 65km multi-day fundraising trek along the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory.

Read more

 

Generous grant connects Queenslanders

The festive event was made possible thanks to a generous grant from The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust.

Focused on supporting local and grassroots charities, The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust has been a dedicated supporter of Guide Dogs since 2014.

Read More

Giving Day 2021

Who helped the dogs out? You! You! You!

In the words of one of our newest volunteers Kathleen ‘Lucky’ Luck, “The buzz we had for the whole day was epic! We talked about the event for days afterwards.”

Kathleen put her hand up to help after hearing about Guide Dogs Queensland’s first ever Giving Day.

You may have received a phone call from Kathleen, her colleague Jules, or one of the 120 volunteers and staff who jumped on the phones and reached out to you, our wonderful community, asking for your support.

But it wasn’t just ‘luck’ that helped us reach our goal. We were generously supported by a group of incredible matched donors who made the commitment to quadruple all donations on the day.

Read more

Tyler and Fletcher

Meet our team

New vets at Guide Dogs!

For new vets Natalie and Amber, joining the Guide Dogs team is an exciting opportunity to use their skills to help the community.

“I was drawn to the idea of working for such a wonderful charity, and using my skills to give back and help people,” Amber said.

For Natalie, her experience with working dogs provides a great foundation for the role.

Image of our new vets, Amber and Lisa holding young yellow puppies

Advocating for Queenslanders with vision loss

'Access All Areas' campaign

 

People with low vision or blindness experience access challenges daily. This might include being illegally refused entry to a venue because they have a Guide Dog, or it might be because physical barriers, signage or a lack of information don’t allow for them to enter a place in an inclusive way.

This year, we launched a nation-wide Access All Areas campaign aiming to remove barriers for people with low vision or blindness, and provoke change.

A yellow labrador Guide Dog in harness in the front passenger's footwell of a car. The dog is resting its head on the car seat.

Meet our pups

Welcoming spring with the super cute ‘S’ litter!

While we can’t know for sure what the future will bring, here at Guide Dogs, we’re incredibly grateful to be able to share so many positive stories of connection and community with you.

It just so happens that on the brink of spring we also welcomed our newest puppies — the ‘S’ litter!

Sarge, Sparky, Steel, Snoopy, Scout, Scarlett and Sashi have officially left the nursery and are out learning with their Puppy Raisers.

We asked Nursery Coordinator Fiona to tell us a little about the beautiful spring litter.

“They’re such a sweet and energetic litter”, Fiona said. “It’s been such a joy to see them grow and it’s very exciting to see them head out with their Puppy Raisers.”

“They’re all cheeky, playful pups and I’m sure they will thrive in their training sessions.”

Image of Fiona holding two puppies in the S litter with another beside her, sitting the puppy play area.

“It’s thanks to your generous donations that these ‘S’ litter puppies are learning the important first skills they need to grow into life changing Guide Dogs.”

Your unwavering support makes it possible for these pups to be the latest in litter born since we started to experience the impacts of COVID-19 last year.

You have been there for us more than ever, through a challenging 2020 into an exciting 2021. You were there on the ground for our first ever Giving Day, shaking donation buckets at our annual Street Appeal and holding your own local fundraisers out in the community.

Every donation, down to each coin dropped into our iconic collection dogs, makes it possible for these pups to grow into guide dogs. Thank you!

Thank you to our incredible volunteers

The 'A' team of Guide Dogs!

Alan and ‘Ayla’ are possibly Guide Dogs’ most recognisable volunteer duo and together, they change lives every day.

Alan is a long-time volunteer and dedicated supporter of Guide Dogs, and is rarely seen without his furry sidekick, ‘Ayla’. The incredible pair have spent countless hours raising funds and awareness for Guide Dogs.

You may have met them at your local shopping centre or train station, selling merchandise or perhaps they paid a visit to your workplace or school.

It’s volunteers like Alan who epitomise the loyalty of the Guide Dogs family – a family you belong to.

Thank you to all our incredible volunteers!

Image of Alan and his Guide Dog Ayla sitting in front of a tree looking at the camera.

Meet the Board

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.

Download Annual Report

Audio Annual Report

Download Financial Report

Our Supporters

Our Legacy Givers

 

Guide Dogs Queensland Board President, Richard Anderson OAM, kneeling outside next to a yellow labrador Guide Dog in Training. The dog is wearing a Guide Dog in Training jacket. Both the dog and Richard are looking at the camera and Richard is smiling.

Honnie changed everything for Arthur.

Will you help someone waiting for their perfect Guide Dog?