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.

The Conference was a fantastic success! We had 44 attendees, 27 dog guides, and a puppy in training, enjoying the weekend and participating in some great sessions and networking opportunity.

Prior to the conference a Guest on Vision Extra (29 August 2018) Nadia Mattiazzo, President of Dog Guide Handlers Australia, inviting all to attend .

To listen to the interview go to:

Nadia on Vision Extra

Conference Funding and Thanks

With kind sponsorship from Guide Dogs Australia and Seeing Eye Dogs, DGHA was able to assist many current Dog Guide Handlers on low incomes to cover conference registration and assistance towards cost of travel and accommodation.

This funding support has given Dog Guide Handlers who otherwise would not be able to attend the opportunity to participate in the conference. We would like to thank Guide Dogs Australia and Seeing Eye Dogs for their support of the conference.

Also a special thanks to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for providing Orientation and Mobility assistance by Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (GDMI’s) who made themselves available for orientation of the conference venue and surrounds to attendees.

Day 1: Saturday 10 November 2018

Opening 9:30 am – 10:00 am

Title: Opening Session
Co-Chairs: Nadia Mattiazzo – President Dr Kevin Murfitt – Vice-President.

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

Session 1 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Title: Keynote Address.
Chair: Greg Madson – Treasurer
Presenter: Cheng Hock Kua

Cheng Hock Kua sitting at a table presenting his Keynote Speech

Mr Kua was the first person living in Singapore to use a dog guide. He will speak about his experience as well as the establishment of dog guide services in Singapore.

Session 1 audio (mp3 65 minutes)

(15 minutes) Group Photo of delegates and dogs.

Image of attendees and their dogs at the DGHA 2018 National Conference in the Novotel Brighton Beach lobby

Session 2 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Title: Past, present and Future of dog guide mobility.
Chair: Rowena Dowling

Past: (30 minutes)
Greg Madson presented tributes and profiles of Tom Blair, Leigh Garwood, Eric Hatchley and Phyllis Gration.

Present: (30 minutes)
Paul Adrian, Guide Dog Services Manager, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT presented an overview of topics from the IDGF conference.

Future; (30 mins)
DogBot: The Robotic Dog Guide.
Rowena Dowling presented the research and audio described video of advances in AI robotic dogs.

Session 2 audio (mp3 85 minutes)

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Lunch

Session 3 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Presenters: Nadia, John Ross, Paul, Martine and Lester

Title: Innovations and emerging trends in dog guide mobility.
Chair: Nadia Mattiazzo
Martine Abel-Williamson, New Zealand, to discuss couples being trained to share a dog.
Panel of presenters.

Session 3 audio (mp3 85 minutes)

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm: Afternoon tea.

Session 4 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Recreational opportunities.

  • Optional walk for dogs and handlers escorted by volunteers.
  • Optional visit to a nearby coffee shop.

Conference Dinner 7.00 pm – 9.30 pm

Judith Killen DGHA Golden Harness Award Presented to Joyce Jones 2018

At the Saturday night dinner the Judith Killen Golden Harness Award was presented to Joyce Jones.

Peter Greco interviewed Joyce on Vision Extra regarding receiving the award. If you would like to listen to the interview, please go to:

Interview with Joyce Jones on Vision Extra

Day Two: Sunday 11 November 2018

Session 4 8:30 am- 10:00 am

Title: feedback on DGHA Strategic Plan and AGM.

  • Welcome
  • House-keeping announcements
  • Acknowledgement to Country

An opportunity for the membership to discuss and provide feedback regarding future direction of DGHA.

Annual General Meeting 9.15 am – 10.00 am

Nadia Mattiazzo – President
Greg Madson –Treasurer


  • Roll Call
  • Apologies
  • acceptance of 2017 AGM Minutes
  • President’s Report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Election of Committee
  • Other Business

Session 5 10.00 am – 11.00 am

Title: International Travel with dog guides.
Chair: Joyce Jones – Secretary.
Dr Kevin Murfitt, who travelled to South Africa with his dog guide.
Nadia Mattiazzo, who travelled with her dog guide on a Cruise ship.
Greg Madson, who travelled on the Indian Pacific train with his dog guide.

Session 5 audio (mp3 55 minutes)

11.00 am – 11.30 am Morning Tea

Session 6 11.30 am – 1.00 pm

Title: Tellington T Touch Technique
Chair: Rowena Dowling
Presenters: Andy Robertson – Companion Animal T Touch Instructor and second colleague

Handlers providing Tellington Touch to their dogs

Overview and practical demonstration of the Tellington T Touch technique for dogs.

Session 6 audio (mp3 85 minutes)

1.00pm – 2.00 pm: Lunch.

Session 7 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm

Title: NDIS And dog guide funding.
Chair: Dr Kevin Murfitt

Panel of speakers, handlers with dog guides funded under NDIS. (self managed and agency managed funding).

Panel members:

  • Gisele Mesnage
  • Krystel Malcolm
  • Katie Butler
  • Emma Bennison for Blind Citizens Australia

Session 7 audio (mp3 85 minutes)

3.30 pm – 4.00 pm. Afternoon Tea.

View from the head table of 2018 Conference attendees

4 pm: Conference concludes.