Today Guide Dogs Australia has been announced as Australia’s Most Trusted Charity Brand, maintaining their exclusive hold on the title for a fifth consecutive year. The organisation received this honour as part of the annual Reader’s Digest’s Trusted Brands survey, which added the charity category in 2013.
Guide Dogs spokesperson and CEO for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Dr Graeme White said the achievement highlighted the significance of a trusting relationship between a person with sight loss and their Guide Dog.
“It is a great honour for Guide Dogs to be named most trusted charity for the fifth year in a row. Trust is at the heart of everything we do, particularly between a person with sight loss and their Guide Dog which gives them the freedom to get around safely and independently,” said Dr White.
“This trust extends to the community, who love to see our iconic Guide Dogs out and about with their Handler. We frequently hear from locals who have spotted a working dog – it’s a rare opportunity for people to see a cause they support in action.”
The unique bond between Handler and Guide Dog is something Guide Dogs client Barbara Bonfield has experienced for the past 24 years. Born with a retinal eye condition that caused her to become blind by the age of 12, Barbara originally relied on other mobility methods for decades before receiving her first Guide Dog in 1993.
“Having a Guide Dog has made an enormous difference to my mobility and quality of life over the years. I travel more frequently now and it’s reassuring when I am out, to be able to completely trust my Guide Dog Samara,” said Ms Bonfield.
“Many people don’t realise how exhausting going out can be when you’re blind and the need to rely so heavily on other senses to keep safe. But with Samara I have more energy and confidence; I know that when I catch a train she will always find the door to my right, meaning she will always be between me and the gap so that I won’t fall. I really do trust Samara with my life.”
Guide Dogs relies on the support and generosity of the local community to be able to provide services to people with vision impairment as the charity receives less than 10 per cent of its funding from the government.
“Every day, 28 Australians are diagnosed with sight loss, including nine who become blind, and without the ongoing trust and support of the community, we would not be able to continue our important work,” said Dr White.
It is estimated that by 2020, one million Australians will be vision impaired, with 100,000 becoming blind. Currently only one in four people who need a Guide Dog has one.
ABOUT THE READER’S DIGEST SURVEY: The Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey was independently conducted by Roy Morgan Research and included a cross-section of 2,450 Australian participants. The survey has been conducted annually for 18 years, with the charity category being included from 2013.