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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3496

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (13:48): I rise to praise the work of the wonderful staff and volunteers at Guide Dogs Victoria. Recently I had the privilege of visiting Guide Dogs Victoria to celebrate International Guide Dog Day. Guide Dogs Victoria, which is ranked one of the 'Top 3 Most Trusted Institutions' in Australia, is based at Arnold Cook House in Kew in the heart of my electorate of Kooyong. Now in its 56th year, Guide Dogs Victoria employs around 100 people, has nearly 2,000 clients and is responsible for providing more than 70 per cent of the working guide dogs in Victoria as well as guide dogs to a number of other states.

Significantly, all services provided by Guide Dogs Victoria, including the provision of the dogs themselves, are provided entirely free of charge. Guide Dogs Victoria receives less than 10 per cent of its funding from government, none of which is designated to meet the costs of breeding, raising and training guide dogs. Funds for these purposes are raised only from private benefactors and public donations.

While I was at Guide Dogs Victoria I had the opportunity to talk with Karen Hayes, the organisation's dynamic CEO, as well as its president, Russell Walker. We talked about how more than 500,000 Australians are living with blindness or vision impairment and, with this number projected to more than double by 2020, there is a growing demand for services. I am sure I am supported by my colleagues from both sides of the political divide when I say a big thankyou to Guide Dogs Victoria, their staff and volunteers, and wish them all the very best for the future.