Conferences

On this page you will find information on upcoming and recordings of past Dog Guide Handlers conferences.

black-dog-labrador-retriever-dressed-face-mask-coronavirus-protection-everyone-COVID-19-concept-isolated-white-background
Black dog with COVID-19 mask

Dog Guide Handlers Australia 2021 National Conference

In 2021 Dog Guide Handlers Australia (DGHA) held its National Bi-Annual conference online via Zoom on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June.

We would like to Thank the Department of Social Services for their Conference funding support and Vision Australia for their kind sponsorship.

Conference Audio and Caption Transcriptions

All times are Eastern Standard Daylight Time.

Day 1: Saturday 19 June

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Title: Opening Session:
Chair: Dr Kevin Murfitt

  • Welcome
  • Acknowledgement to Country
  • House-keeping announcements
  • Roll Call

Welcome Day 1 Audio

DGHA Day 1 Caption Transcription (Word doc)

Session 1

11:00 am – 11:30 am

Title: Dog guide agencies Panel:
Chair: Claudia Stevenson

Presenters:

  • Mary Chapell from Stapell Working Dog O and M Services
  • Anna Gigliottii-Skret from Forward Thinking Dog Training
  • Brooke Anderson from Seeing Eye Dogs

(60 minutes)

Topics to be discussed:

  • Dog Guide Training how do you determine what dog would be a good dog guide
  • Clicker training
  • Other breeds

Session 1 Audio

Session 2

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Title: Keynote Address.
Chair: Dr Kevin Murfitt

Paul Adrian is currently a Training Manager at Seeing Eye Dogs. Paul began as a Guide Dog and Orientation and Mobility Instructor in 1984. In a career spanning over 30 years he has worked or completed assignments in Israel, USA, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia, Norway, Slovakia and Germany. Paul has a strong interest in animal behaviour and welfare and has presented at a number of national and international conferences. He has been an Assessor for the International Guide Dog Federation.

(30 minutes)

Session 2 Audio

Session 3

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

Title: Members Panel
Chair: John Hardie

Presenters:

  • Nadia Mattiazzo
  • Sean Tyrell
  • Jen Moon

(30 minutes)

Topics to be discussed:

  • Dog guide refusals how to deal with them as a handler
  • Legislation
  • Advocacy tips
  • Recent survey on assistance dog legislation

Session 3 Audio

Break for lunch – 1.00 pm – 1:30 pm

Session 4

1:30 pm – 2:15 pm

Title: Emerging issues
Chair: Erika Webb

Presenters:

  • Erica Read from Australia Post
  • Representative from Blind Citizens Australia
  • (45 minutes)

    Topics to be discussed:

    • Silent vehicles
    • Ride sharing, and taxi issues
    • Advocacy tips – What Australia Post is doing around Electric Delivery Vehicles

    Session 4 Audio

    Session 5

    2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

    Title: From the floor
    Chair: Annette Ferguson

    Presenters:

    • Melinda Bowden
    • Joyce Jones
    • Members questions from the Floor

    (60 minutes)

    Topics to be discussed:

    • Dog accessories
    • Tips and tricks
    • Enrichment toys and games for dogs

    Session 5 Audio

    First day wrap-up
    3:15 pm – 3:30 pm
    (15 minutes)

    Title: Day 2 Opening Announcements

    10.00 am- 10.15 am

    • Welcome
    • House-keeping announcements
    • Acknowledgement to Country

    (15 minutes)

    Day 2 Welcome Audio

    DGHA Conference Day 2 Caption Transcription (Word doc)

    Session 6

    10:15 am – 11:15 am

    Title: Panel – a day in the life of a puppy walker
    Chair: Francois Jacobs

    Presenters:

    • A panel of puppy walkers

    (60 minutes)

    Session 6 Audio

    Session 7

    11:15 am to 12:15 pm

    Title: NDIS and Aged Care
    Chair: Greg Madson

    Presenters:

    • Pearl and Peter Sumner
    • Letisha Watson of Seeing Eye Dogs
    • Lauren Henley
    • (60 minutes)

      Topics to be discussed:

      • Current update on the NDIS
      • Current update on My Aged Care
      • Human rights and the DDA

      Session 7 Audio

      Session 8

      12:15 pm – 12:45 pm

      Title: Domestic travel
      Chair: Greg Madson

      Presenters:

      • Nina Smith from Travel Paws
      • James (Buck) McFarlane Cocky Guides

      (30 minutes)

      Session 8 Audio

      Lunch
      12:45 pm – 1:15pm

      Session 9

      1:15 pm – 2:00 pm

      Title: Members Focus
      Chair: Bronwyn Drew

      Presenter:

      • Louise Pearson

      Topics to be discussed:

      • Dealing with grief
      • Mindfulness
      • Second dog Syndrome

      (45 minutes)

      Session 9 Audio

      DGHA 10th Anniversary Cake. A chocolate and cream roulade cake with cream on top and shards of chocolate and macadamia nuts.
      DGHA 10th Anniversary Cake

      Session 10

      2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

      Title: Past Presidents Panel
      Chair: Dr Kevin Murfitt

      Presenters:

      • Past DGHA Presidents
      • Rowena Dowling
      • Greg Madson
      • Nadia Mattiazzo

      (60 minutes)

      Topics to be discussed:

      • DGHA history
      • Future of DGHA
      • 10-year anniversary birthday cake
      • Presentation of Golden Harness award

      The Judith Killen Golden Harness Award is presented to a person for their outstanding efforts in fostering, representing, promoting, enhancing and protecting the interests of Australians who are blind or vision impaired and who use a dog guide.

      Judith Killen Golden Harness Award D.G.H.A. Presented to John Gosling AM 2021 Dog Guide Handlers Australia
      DGHA Award 2021

      Dog Guide Handlers Australia would like to congratulate John Gosling, the recipient of the 2021 Judith Killen Golden Harness Award.

      Session 10 Audio

      Final Session

      3:00 pm – 3:30 pm

      Conference wrap-up

      Conference Wrap-up Audio

      DGHA 2018 National Conference

      The 2018 Dog Guide Handlers Australia National conference was held on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November 2018 at the Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach, Cnr. The Grand Parade & Princess Street, Brighton-le-Sands NSW.

      For the full info including audio of all sessions, please visit our DGHA 2018 National Conference page

DGHA 2016 National Conference

ON the weekend of 22 and 23 October 2016 Dog Guide Handlers Australia held its second national conference at the Sage hotel in Adelaide.

For the full info including audio of all sessions, please visit our DGHA 2016 National Conference page

First Dog Guide Handlers Australia Conference

A first in Australia! In 2014 on the weekend of 6th and 7th September, Dog Guide Handlers Australia held its first ever conference. Held in Adelaide at the Grand Chifley, the conference was a fantastic success bringing Dog Guide Handlers, their dog guides, instructors and speakers from around Australia together, to participate in a range of workshops and engage in some great networking and peer support activity.


DGHA Conference Group Adelaide 2014
DGHA 2014 Conference Group


During the conference dinner, the inaugural Dog Guide Handlers Australia Judith Killen Golden Harness Award was presented. This award is presented to a person for their outstanding efforts in fostering, representing, promoting, enhancing and protecting the interests of Australians who are blind or vision impaired and who use a dog guide.


Dog Guide Handlers Australia would like to congratulate Rowena Dowling, the first ever recipient of the Judith Killen Golden Harness Award.

Peter Greco from the RPH Adelaide radio show “Focal Point” interviewed Rowena on her receiving the award. Rowena’s interview is about 10 minutes in. To listen go to Focal Point

DGHA Golden Harness Award
DGHA Golden Harness Award

Episode 366 of the Blind Citizens Australia radio show, New Horizons, featured Joyce Jones, an attendee at the DGHA 2014 conference, and Rowena Dowling, speaking on recieving her Golden Harness Award.

to listen go to New Horizons episode 366

Dog Guide Handlers Australia would like to thank Guide Dogs Australia, Seeing Eye dogs Australia, the Royal Society for the Blind, Naturopaws, Blue Print Studios and BM PetSnax (supplying dog treats) for their support of the 2014 Dog Guide Handlers Australia conference.

2014 Conference Recordings

Recordings of the DGHA 2014 Conference are availible. Please use the links below to access the audio. Some files are quite large and might take a few minutes to start.

Day 1 – Saturday 6 September 2014.

  • Workshop 1 After a rollcall we hear from David Foran on Dog Guides and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Audio length around 110 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 2 We hear From Paul Adrian, Manager Guide Dog Services – Victoria Guide Dogs, about the history of dog guide training up to the latest Clicker Training methods. Audio length around 75 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 3 We hear from Harry Van Der Jagt, National Manager Client Services – Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, and some experienced dog guide handlers about the range of equipment used with dog guides. Audio length around 50 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 4 Dorothy Docherty, Consumer Advisory Representative – Guide Dogs Victoria, and Nadia Mattiazzo – Consumer Advisory Representative – Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, speak about dog guide handlers and schools working together. Audio length around 55 minutes in MP3 format.
  • DGHA 2014 AGM Dog Guide Handlers Australia 2014 Annual General Meeting. Audio length around 30 minutes in MP3 format.

Day 2 – Sunday 7 September 2014.

  • Workshop 5 Beth Critchley, Certified canine natural therapist from Naturopaws, speaks about caring for your dog guide. Audio length around 40 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 6 Harry van der Jagt, National Manager Client Services SEDA, speaks about the New SEDA kennels and Recent discussions with Melbourne Zoo on Dog Guide Access. Audio length around 50 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 7 Daisy Holt, cadet Guide Dog Mobility Instructor – Royal Society for the Blind South Australia, speaks about training with other breeds for use as dog guides. Audio length around 30 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 8 Dog Guide Handlers Australia members, Nadia Mattiazzo, Nicole Damarra and Tracey Cross discuss various issues including – traveling with your dog guide, dog distraction, pet insurance, retiring a dog guide and starting with a new dog guide and tips and tricks. Audio length around 45 minutes in MP3 format.