Over the past 12 months, Guide Dogs Victoria has been diligently working towards developing and implementing a Cultural Sensitivity Plan. The plan aims to provide a welcoming environment for staff, volunteers, Clients and visitors to all GDV events and sites. By respecting cultural differences, we hope to encourage people from all different backgrounds to engage with our services and ensure that they feel safe in doing so.
Recently, as part of this plan, we have implemented an initiative that relates to Acknowledgement of Country. This initiative will see every significant Guide Dogs Victoria event opened with an Acknowledgement of Country. The purpose of an Acknowledgement of Country is to:
• Recognise Indigenous people as the first Australians.
• Promote awareness of the history and culture of Australia’s Indigenous people; and
• Formally acknowledge Indigenous people’s ongoing connections to the land.
This is our way of showing respect and awareness for the original Indigenous custodians of the land on which an event is being held. We have also distributed a card with the acknowledgement to our staff at Guide Dogs Victoria to wear on their work lanyard. The design for the card was developed with the Wurundjeri Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation.
In addition, we have a commitment within our Cultural Sensitivity Plan to ensure our staff undertake regular training to ensure our services are delivered with respect and in a way which our people and Clients feel comfortable and proud of who they are. We plan in the next 18 months to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan, and our 5-year plan is to further increase the diversity of our workforce.
This is an ongoing commitment which will see the introduction of many further plans for Guide Dogs Victoria over coming years.