Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been recognised for excellence and innovation in its work, health and safety response to COVID-19, winning a 2020 SafeWork NSW Award for ‘Outstanding work, health and safety response to the changed working environment due to COVID-19’.
“Throughout the pandemic our focus has been on protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our workers, clients, volunteers, supporters and the broader community,” said Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
“COVID-19 has thrown a range of challenges our way. Our business is diverse which has made many of these challenges quite complex. At Guide Dogs NSW/ACT we provide life changing services to people with low vision or blindness, raise and train future Guide Dogs, engage with more than 500 volunteers and hundreds of supporters, and have workers in a mix of regional and metro locations. We’ve had to consider, manage and adapt a lot of moving parts.”
at Guide Dogs, we have always been in the business of overcoming barriers and this attribute is hardwired into the DNA of those who work for, and support us
“But at Guide Dogs, we have always been in the business of overcoming barriers and this attribute is hardwired into the DNA of those who work for, and support us,” Mr Cleaver said.
Mr Cleaver said Guide Dogs NSW/ACT demonstrated extraordinary agility to ensure continuity of service for Clients during COVID-19, including the rapid implementation and utilisation of innovative technology to deliver telepractice.
“Clients are always at the heart of everything we do, the majority of which are over the age of 65 – a vulnerable category. They also face challenges relating to not being able to appropriately social distance due to a lack of visual cues and accessibility. We couldn’t take the risk of continuing face-to-face services for Clients or workers. We suspended them very quickly in comparison to many other businesses,” Mr Cleaver said.
The organisation also moved quickly with the help of a dedicated COVID-19 team to enable all staff to work remotely within a three day period in early March, and established online wellness programs and weekly all-staff meetings to keep workers connected.
A unique challenge was the creation of COVID-19 safe protocols put in place to protect workers, volunteer Puppy Raisers and dogs, meaning even future Guide Dogs received puppy training sessions via online resources like Zoom.
“As Australia’s Most Trusted Charity for seven years, it is important we maintain the trust so many people put in us every day, especially during this difficult time,” Mr Cleaver said.
“To be recognised for the hard work, dedication and commitment it has taken to achieve a COVIDSafe environment for workers, clients, supporters and volunteers is just wonderful,” Mr Cleaver added.
You can find out more about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT COVID-safe measures here.