Guide Dogs Victoria is delighted to announce a $5 million grant from the Victorian Government to support the redevelopment of Guide Dogs Victoria’s Kew headquarters into a world-class training and education centre, and what will be the world’s first sensory campus for people who are blind or have low vision.

Martin Foley, Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, made the announcement at the Guide Dogs Victoria Kew campus on Friday morning.

“Guide Dogs Victoria has been empowering people with low vision or blindness across the state for more than 60 years – this revamp will mean they can continue to grow and expand the vital services they provide,” said Mr Foley.

“It’s an exciting new chapter for the association to become financially self-sustaining, but also to employ more people with disabilities through the great new business opportunities being added to the existing site.”

The redevelopment is part of Guide Dogs Victoria’s Future is in Sight project, which is set to transform the 60-year-old site and help to drive the shift from dependence to independence for Guide Dogs Victoria clients.

The site will accommodate people with vision loss, Guide Dogs and employees in a way that will stimulate and heighten sensory experience via sound, textures and smell. Features will include:

· A world-class training centre of excellence
· A new building for client services
· Refurbished onsite accommodation
· A new education centre – multi-functional space that will transform into a 200-seat auditorium
· Meeting rooms for veterinary students, school and community groups, and employees
· Undercover training space for people and Guide Dogs

The new campus will also deliver new income streams that will provide a strong connection to the local community and sustain vital funding in the new era of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The new commercial hub will include:

· A Veterinary Hospital
· A Teaching Facility
· A Dog Day Care Centre
· A Low Vision Clinic
· An on-site Café.

Guide Dogs Victoria has now raised $20 million of its required target of $23.4 million to commence work on the project.

“This announcement heralds an exciting new era for Guide Dogs Victoria and the thousands of people with low vision and blindness that we support,” said Guide Dogs Victoria CEO Karen Hayes.

“Not only will we be building the first fully accessible sensory campus in the world, we are building a sustainable future for our organisation to enable us to meet the rising demand for our vision support services.”

The need for the services of Guide Dogs Victoria is greater than ever before, with approximately 15,000 Victorians diagnosed with some form of irreversible vision loss every year. As these numbers continue to rise, the demand on our services is expected to double by the year 2020.