2020 Guide Dogs Queensland Graduation Ceremony
Member for Petrie; our President, Mr Anderson and CEO, Mr Knightley; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I am honoured to share this day with you all.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
Sixty years ago, on 26 May 1960, a group of dedicated Queenslanders gathered in West End for the inaugural meeting of the committee of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of Queensland.
Their mission, although simply stated – to improve the lives of people with low or no vision – was complex in its implementation.
The Committee, for example, had to take out a bank loan of 400 pounds – then a substantial sum – to train just one dog!
While Guide Dogs Queensland has never strayed from that central mission, the scope and reach of its services has evolved over the ensuing six decades.
The organisation now provides a remarkable array of services including occupational therapy and counselling, and is a leading proponent of assisted technologies – evident with 10 graduates today trained to use Electronic Travel Aide and Long Cane devices.
Of course, the guide dogs themselves continue to deliver an incredibly important service in our community.
More than a furry companion – although they excel at that as well! – guide dogs enable a sense of freedom for many in our community who would otherwise be confined with limited mobility.
A program such as this is reliant on so many in the chain to ensure the success we celebrate today.
I therefore congratulate everyone from volunteers and vets to trainers and staff who have helped prepare the guide dogs here today for a lifetime dedicated to assisting people with low or no vision.
And to our star guide dogs – well done!
It is of course hard to know how our animal friends feel about their important job. But if we may anthropomorphise for a moment, I think we could easily say that when a guide dog steps into its harness, they acknowledge their duties and take to them with a keen sense of pride.
And for the humans they are helping, I can only imagine the gratitude and love that flows to the guide dogs as they lead you to experience the world in a different way.
Congratulations to everyone involved in today’s ceremony.
You give further depth and substance to this uplifting charity which is rightly lauded as one of the State’s most trusted and recognisable.
I wish you all a most fulfilling end to this most significant 60th anniversary year of Guide Dogs Queensland. Thank you and congratulations.