Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has entered into a partnership with Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) to “ensure Victorians with low vision or blindness can continue to receive essential services during coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdowns.”
The venue will be used as a space, free of charge, for the training of Guide Dogs Victoria clients and guide dogs-in-training.
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 had to adapt to Covid-safe protocols and find new ways to continue providing services to those in Victoria with low vision or blindness.
Guide Dogs Victoria’s CEO, Karen Hayes AM, said: “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.
“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, added: “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.
“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 the events space is not in use.