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The New South Wales (NSW) Central West town of Wellington will be transformed into a mini-movie set this week for the filming of a new video designed to educate Indigenous people who are blind or vision impaired about Guide Dogs NSW/Australian Capital Territory's (ACT) free, local services.
The video, a brochure and a poster, all to be created in and around Wellington, will form the basis of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's first Indigenous-specific education campaign that will be launched during National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week from 7 to 14 July 2013.
The campaign is the initiative of Indigenous Elder Aunty Mary Hooker, a Bundjalung woman from Taree now living in Mudgee, who is vision impaired and wants to ensure other Indigenous people don't wait like she did to seek assistance from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. Aunty Mary said the campaign's focus was to present information about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's services in a simplified manner that was culturally accessible for Indigenous communities, with all materials to be designed using Indigenous colours.
'Until I discovered Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, I felt isolated and couldn't identify with any services that were culturally appropriate and sensitive to Aboriginal people,' says Aunty Mary, who is legally blind due to diabetic retinopathy - a condition that causes damage to the retinal tissue and can lead to blindness if left untreated.
'In fact I didn't approach Guide Dogs NSW/ACT at first because I thought they would give me a guide dog. But I heard an ad on TV saying that they also train people in how to use canes. So I rang them; they came out to me and gave me cane training. I was able to get my cane in Aboriginal colours so people can identify me as Aboriginal. I want Aboriginals and all cultures to know about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT - if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be able to be where I am at the moment at college continuing my studies. They helped me to develop the skills I needed to get out of the house, catch a bus and get around independently in the community. Not only was it help for me, it was also help for my family.'
With blindness rates in Indigenous Australian adults over six times the rate in mainstream Australia, and vision loss in general on the rise due to the ageing population, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT hopes its new campaign will see more Indigenous Australians with vision loss seeking its training programs in how to move around safely and independently.
'We're hoping to break new ground with this campaign and Wellington is the perfect location to create our resources as it's in the heart of Central West NSW, which is home to many Aboriginal communities,' says Jennifer Moon, Community Education Coordinator for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. 'Our services are not widely known in Aboriginal communities, so we're hoping that this new information kit will be very useful for both Aboriginal Health Workers, people with vision impairment and families and carers supporting people with vision impairment.'
Source: Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
Ph: 0413 753 241