The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has been made available, free of charge, to Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV), enabling vital training of Guide Dogs and clients to continue both indoors and outside, in spite of government restrictions due to COVID-19.
With Melbourne experiencing restrictions in-line with directions from the Chief Health Officer, and with the Victorian Government’s roadmap to reopening, MCEC is currently closed to the public. GDV has also faced significant challenges during this time – adapting to COVID-safe protocols and finding innovative new ways to continue providing vital services to Victorians with low vision or blindness.
They can practice navigating escalators, elevators, stairs, and chairs to name a few examples, but in an environment that is safely contained and controlled
Guide Dogs Victoria’s CEO, Karen Hayes AM said the collaboration with MCEC had made a significant difference to GDV being able to continue delivering Guide Dog services during these challenging times.
“Thanks to Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Guide Dogs Victoria has been able to continue to provide essential services to clients and train life-changing Guide Dogs during this lockdown. We know that our clients have felt significant isolation and an increasing loss of confidence, as the restrictions continued. We are incredibly grateful to MCEC for working creatively with us to get people back on track to be confident and independent again” she said.
“Furthermore, with such strict government restrictions aimed at keeping us all safe, it is fabulous to have a space like MCEC where clients and our dogs we can still train ‘real world’ experiences. They can practice navigating escalators, elevators, stairs, and chairs to name a few examples, but in an environment that is safely contained and controlled.”
MCEC Chief Executive, Peter King said the venue shares GDV’s commitment to creating welcoming and inclusive spaces for people with low vision and blindness.
“We have an environment that is accessible and safe for GDV to provide their training and essential services and the lockdown has meant we can offer the space they need,” he said.
“In these unpredictable times we need to pull together as a community and be resourceful to help those who need our support.”
GDV’s Guide Dog Mobility Instructors and clients began training at MCEC in September, and will continue using the venue as a training space while space is not in use.