Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs response to COVID-19

Updated July 6, 2020

Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs is closely monitoring developments in relation to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and we are acting on the advice of health authorities.

We currently have no indication that any member of our workforce or our client group has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

At present our main priorities are ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients and supporting efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

Seeing Eye Dogs Operational Update

Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs’ Kensington facility, including Kennels, Puppy Centre and Indoor Mobility Training Centre are subject to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Victorian Government as of Saturday, July 4.

As a result the Seeing Eye Dogs Kensington facility is currently closed to the public.

Seeing Eye Dogs Kensington will continue to operate with reduced on-site staffing to:

  • Provide essential veterinary care and husbandry for Seeing Eye Dogs
  • Provide essential training for Seeing Eye Dogs and handlers
  • Continue to breed and produce new Seeing Eye Dogs puppies to support clients in future years.

Strict COVID-19 screening and controls are in place.

Additional support for all Seeing Eye Dog clients is available through telehealth.

Remote support continues to be available for all Seeing Eye Dogs carers. Please note, existing COVID-19 arrangements for Seeing Eye Dogs puppy carers are still in place, including contactless pick-up and drop-off of dogs at the Kensington site.

For more information about these arrangements, please call 1800 03 77 73.

Puppy carers

We have made some temporary changes to how our puppy caring program operates.

This is to ensure the health and safety of our carers, staff, clients and the wider community and will be in place until further notice. 

New dog pick up and drop off guidelines at Seeing Eye Dogs Kensington

Dog drop off: 

  • Please enter via the front car park (Barrett Street) and put your dog in one of the small toilet yards on the car park level.
  • Remove all equipment (collar, lead, harness and retain or return to equipment tub).
  • Please write the dog’s name, your name, and phone number on the noteboard located on the toileting yard gate.
  • Once you have done so, call our Kennels team mobile on 0437 001 798 or your puppy development trainer (depending who/what you’re dropping the dog to site for) to let us know your dog is ready to be collected and return to your vehicle.

Dog pick up: 

  • Please enter via the front car park off Barrett Street and call the Kennels team on 0437 001 798 from your car.
  • A Kennels team member will bring the dog and required equipment/supplies to the toilet yard in the front car park and give a verbal handover via phone of any necessary information.
  • You’ll then be able to collect dog from the toileting yard and be on your way. 

Returning equipment

There is a large sign-posted tub located near the toileting yards to place all returned equipment.

Please do not leave equipment in any other locations as we will need to ensure any returned equipment is sanitized.

Collecting Supplies from Seeing Eye Dogs Kensington

If you need to come to Seeing Eye Dogs Kensington to collect food, sentinel, equipment or other supplies, please call our Kennels team on 0437 001 798 ahead of your arrival.

We will then arrange to have your items ready for collection in the front car park.

We will continue to keep you updated on any changes, but for any queries, please get in touch with your puppy development trainer or Seeing Eye Dog contact. 

On site veterinary services

Veterinary procedures are continuing on site with social distancing in place. Any planned on-site vet visits for pups will go ahead however the consultation will take place via phone, with carers requested to wait in their vehicles.

For health conditions that arise, please be in contact with your puppy development trainer as per usual for advice whether the pup should be treated by your local vet or at Seeing Eye Dogs.

Veterinary care of all dogs housed on site is continuing without interruption and welfare of all dogs continues to be high priority.

Please remember to protect our dogs by maintaining health and vaccination protocols for our puppies and breeding dogs, check your vaccination schedule in the vet book and manual and make sure they are up to date. For the safety of all our dogs we cannot accept unvaccinated dogs into our kennels. 

Other volunteering roles

All on-site volunteering programs are currently suspended. 

What you need to know about Vision Australia services

COVID-19 has impacted how we’ve been able to support the blind and low vision community in recent months, but we’re excited to let you know you can now request a face to face appointment for most Vision Australia services.

Your health and safety, and that of our workforce, remains our top priority, so a face to face appointment might feel a little different for the time being. Please follow the directions of our staff during appointments around hand hygiene, social distancing and touching products or surfaces.

Our staff have been equipped with protective equipment and may choose to use it during an appointment if they believe it will help to keep you or themselves safe.

We’ve strengthened our hygiene protocols at Vision Australia locations and you will need to undergo a COVID-19 screening over the phone before visiting us or having an appointment in your own home.

As we return to providing face to face appointments, there may be some extended waiting times and we ask you to remain patient as we do our best to find a time that suits you.

Remember, you can also request a telehealth appointment with Vision Australia and receive our expert services via videoconferencing or telephone from the safety and comfort of your own home.

To keep everyone safe, we do ask you to not request an appointment if you’re feeling unwell and we urge everyone to follow the advice from the Australian Department of Health and your relevant state-based health authorities.

Vision Australia services in Melbourne

The Victorian Government has announced COVID-19 restrictions for a number of suburbs in Melbourne that will be in force until at least Wednesday, July 29. For a full list of these suburbs and more information about these restrictions, please visit please visit the Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

These restrictions mean residents of these suburbs are currently not permitted to visit any Vision Australia location. Vision Australia is also unable to provide residents of these suburbs with face to face appointments at their home, in the community or any other location.   

You can find more information about what these restrictions mean for Vision Australia services on our website

Vision Australia COVID-19 safety guidelines

Vision Australia’s priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is health and safety of our clients, workforce and the wider community.

As we begin to again offer face to face appointments and welcome the public back into our Vision Australia locations, we have developed the below guidelines for our clients and staff. Please note, restrictions on attending Vision Australia locations and appointments currently apply to residents of a number of Melbourne suburbs.

Please ensure you are familiar with these guidelines and follow them before, during and after a face to face appointment with Vision Australia or visiting a Vision Australia location.

You can read the full list of COVID-19 safety guidelines on our website.

Vision Store

To be able to visit a Vision Store in a Vision Australia centre, you will need to call our National Contact Centre on 1300 84 74 66, they will then forward your request to your local Vision Store team. Your local Vision Store team will contact you to undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment over the phone and arrange an appointment.

This allows us to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and also make sure we have the right product or support available for you. Our offices are following strict social distancing and hygiene protocols.

We ask that you do not visit us if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with or is suspected of having COVID-19. Restrictions also currently apply to residents of a number of Melbourne suburbs.

You can browse the Vision Store range and make purchases online at shop.visionaustralia.org or call our Vision Store team on 1300 84 74 66. We continue to offer free shipping for online and phone purchases, as well as an extended returns policy from 30 days to 90 days.

General COVID-19 information and Government advice

If you would like more information about the COVID-19 situation in Australia, please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website

If you would like to speak to somebody about your situation, you can phone the government's 24/7 hotline on 1800 020 080. You can also phone your regular GP, or in emergency situations call 000.

Staying connected with Vision Australia

You can contact Vision Australia via phone on 1300 84 74 66 or via email at info@visionaustralia.org.

We have a number of ways we can help people stay connected with Vision Australia and the wider community, including:

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and we will be in contact if we are required to take further steps.

Ron Hooton
CEO, Vision Australia