John Gosling AM recognised on the Australia Day Honours list as he celebrates 50 years of working with Guide Dogs

John Gosling AM, often referred to as the ‘Elder Statesman of Guide Dogs’ in Australia has been honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to people who are blind or have low vision in the same week he will celebrate 50 years of working with Australia’s Most Trusted Charity.

Tuesday 2 February will mark the Guide Dog Instructors five decade anniversary working from the Guide Dogs Victoria campus in Kew, Melbourne; his work significantly contributing to the charity’s growth nationally, as well the Guide Dog movement on an international scale.

John decided age 16 that he would spend his life working with Guide Dogs but had to wait six long years to turn the then minimum application age of 22. In that time, he was called up for national service and served in Vietnam. He even wore his army uniform to his Guide Dogs interview upon his return, hoping that it would help secure him the job.

In the 50 years since, John can’t put an exact figure on the ‘thousands’ of life changing Guide Dogs and Clients he has directly or indirectly has worked with. What is certain is the integral role he has played in the organisation expanding its services beyond the much loved and iconic Guide Dog – to now providing a wide range of services to enhance the independence of people living with low vision or blindness.

When asked what he is most proud of from his half-century tenure, John doesn’t point to one single personal achievement. Instead he says, “It’s the freedom and independence Guide Dogs help bring to people with low vision or blindness. Experiencing the trust Clients place in our staff and in our beautiful, dedicated dogs is a real honour.”

Reflecting on his legacy, he also takes great pride in the dedicated teams of Guide Dog Instructors and Orientation and Mobility Instructors he has helped train and guide through their careers. “These people are now based all around the world in the UK, Asia, Scandinavia and USA, and also here in Australia making a difference,” John says.

“Thank you John for your invaluable contribution to the Guide Dog movement and dedication over 50 years. Your Order of Australia is so richly deserved, and your legacy truly immeasurable,” said Karen Hayes, CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria.

Some of John’s career highlights include:

  • In 1992, invited to become the second Accreditation Assessor of the newly formed International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF). In this role, John assessed 24 applicant Guide Dog Schools against International Standards in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Norway, France, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Israel, Slovakia Republic, the United States of America and China.
  • Elected three times to the Board of the International Guide Dog Federation.
  • In 2001, awarded the Order of Australia (OAM).
  • In 2003, awarded the Keith Holdsworth Perpetual Award for services to the Guide Dog and Orientation & Mobility Instructors profession by the Orientation & Mobility Instructors Association of Australasia.
  • From 2015 to 2018, chaired to the IGDF Development Committee and lead the development of an Orientation & Mobility Short Course in Prague and the first South American Guide Dog Seminar in Brazil.
  • Recipient of the 2018 International Guide Dog Federation, Ken Lord Award for exceptional services to the International Guide Dog Movement.

Posted in: Media Release – Published on29 January 2021

statement from the World Blind Union for International Guide Dogs Day

The World Blind Union (WBU) joins the rest of the world in observing International Guide Dogs Day (IGDD) on Wednesday April 29th.

International Guide Dogs day is observed annually on the last Wednesday of April. It highlights the critical role that these service animals also referred to as “working dogs” or “seeing eye dogs”, play in enabling persons who are blind or partially sighted to avoid obstacles and travel safely, confidently, and independently.

In order to avoid contractingCovid-19 and observe proper social distancing practices, persons who are blind or partially sighted are now forced to either stay home with no access to essential services, or to find creative means to travel independently when absolutely necessary. This is where the role of properly trained Guide Dogs becomes very important. Their use significantly decreases the need for physical interaction of a blind or partially sighted person with others.

The World Blind Union therefore takes this opportunity to lobby governments and policy makers to develop and implement legislation to eliminate discrimination against the use of Guide Dogs in public spaces: to encourage the general public to extend social distancing practices to Guide Dogs, and to inform persons who are blind or partially sighted that although there is no evidence of dogs contracting Covid-19, research has shown that they can act as a fomite (surface) for the spread of disease, that is, they can carry the virus or parts of the virus on their coats, nose or mouth and so it is necessary that proper hygiene be practiced more frequently, not only for yourself, but for anyone who will be caring for your Guide Dog if you are unwell.

As the world develops strategies to cope with the effects of this pandemic and to eventually eradicate it, WBU will continue to advocate on behalf of our members. Our aim is to ensure that persons with disabilities, especially those who are blind and partially sighted are not deprived of their rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD), and that they remain on governments’ agenda as they continue to strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment.

Visit our website at

For further information, please contact:

Terry Mutuku
Communications and Strategic Development Officer
World Blind Union

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Dogs understand both language and intonation, making their brains similar to humans’

The World Today By Anne Barker

cientists have come up with proof that shows dogs not only understand human language, but also know the difference between genuine praise and meaningless words.

Key points:

  • Study confirms dogs use different parts of the brain to understand language
  • They only registered praise when both the words and intonation were positive
  • Experiment suggests humans developed language earlier than previously thought

The research was conducted at the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, where they scanned the brains of 13 dogs trained to lie in MRI scanners and monitored what happened as they listened to their owners speak to them.

Dr Attila Andics, who led the study, said it confirmed that just like humans, dogs used different parts of the brain to understand language.

“We’ve found that in dog brains, very similarly to what was found in the human brain, the left hemisphere is more involved in processing meaningful words,” he said.

“We’ve found the right hemisphere auditory brain region will respond differently to praising intonation and neutral intonation, independently of word meaning.”

That means the dogs only registered they were being praised when both the words and intonation were positive.

Experiment offers a clue to when humans started using words

Dr Andics was most excited by what the experiment revealed about how and when humans developed language.

He said the findings suggested the mental ability to process language evolved in humans earlier than previously thought. There’s no special neuron mechanism, it seems from this study, in humans that made us able to start using words. It’s something else, it has to be something else,” Dr Andics said.

“Because the neural mechanism is there in dogs as well”. It seems that the ‘big boom’, if anything, is the actual invention of humans to start using words.

“The very idea that we can use words, and not only intonation, to communicate our feelings.”

The research was published in this month’s Science journal

Calls to improve regulations for assistance animals

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission has responded to an increased number of complaints regarding assistance animals, by holding a forum with various stakeholders to discuss issues around certification, accreditation and regulation of assistance animals.

Assistance animals, particularly assistance dogs, guide dogs and hearing dogs provide invaluable support to some people with disability to enable them to participate in various activities of public and private life.

But there have been a number of cases brought to the Commission, where people with disability have complained that services providers have denied them access because they won’t accept their assistance dogs. This has been particularly problematic when it comes to air travel. Members of the Australian Government’s Aviation Access Forum and other groups agreed to hold a specific meeting to further discuss this issue in coming months.

Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, opened the meeting. “It is clear that there’s an appetite for clarification of some of these issues, particularly regarding training, certification and accreditation of assistance animals, and we have agreed to
continue to work together to progress the issues,” said Commissioner Ryan.