Photo Credit: Guide Dogs Victoria

Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has been awarded the Freedom Award by Guide Dogs Victoria for their allowing access to the venue while Melbourne was in lockdown, to enable Guide Dogs and their owners/trainers to continue vital training. The Award was presented to MCEC yesterday, on International Guide Dog Day.

What is the Freedom Award?

The Freedom Award is an award which Guide Dogs Victoria present to an external organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to Guide Dogs Victoria. Guide Dogs had their training disrupted when Stage 4 lockdown was implemented, the new restrictions meaning GDV were unable to have enough Guide Dog Trainers onsite to continue preparing the dogs for their formal Guide Dog assessments.

The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre caught wind of the trouble GDV were facing and contacted them to see if their facility could be of any use, resulting in a fantastic partnership between the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Guide Dogs Victoria which allowed them to access large training spaces on the expo floor, escalators, café seating, auditoriums, stairs and a variety of floor surfaces for both Clients and Guide Dogs – all in a quiet, controlled and private space close to CBD requirements.

Photo Credit: Guide Dogs Victoria

Through this partnership, they helped around ten Clients directly either supplementing their training with a new dog or via an awareness / assessment program. Furthermore, Guide Dogs Victoria Utilised MCEC in the training of approximately 50 dogs; and to assess the potential of around 30 applicants for Guide Dog Trainer Cadet and Puppy Development Advisor roles.

What is International Guide Dog Day?

International Guide Dog Day is not only about celebrating the dogs who guide their Handlers safely through life, offering companionship and independence that just can’t be matched. It’s also about celebrating the many organisations, staff, volunteers and supporters who contribute to the training of these iconic dogs and the ongoing work of Guide Dogs Victoria. This is a day to show gratitude to those whose skills, generosity and hard work gives people with low vision or blindness the choice to live active and safe lives in their community.