July 7 to the 14th is NAIDOC Week. It is a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
To commemorate this, Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs invited three of its Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander clients to name one puppy each.
Over the course of this week, you'll get to learn about these three in this series of articles. Today you'll learn about Brian from NSW.
Brian was diagnosed with Keratoconus at the age of 18, and fully lost his vision not too long after that.
Brian has been a client with Seeing Eye Dogs for several years now, and his current dog, Opal, is due to enter retirement soon. He explains the significant difference that Opal has made to his life.
“It’s so amazing what these dogs can do, they offer such an incredible level of support that I felt was lacking from just using my cane.”
Being blind certainly hasn’t dampened his love of sport. Brian has quickly managed to pick up blind cricket as a sport, and still loves keeping up to date with his favourite rugby team.
He has also used his own journey as a springboard for his work with the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation as a community outreach worker in the Ability Links NSW program.
In this position, he has the opportunity to help people with disabilities fulfill their goals, hopes and dreams. Brian’s perspective is that anyone can do anything.
“I can do a lot of things that a sighted person can do, it’s just I have a different way of doing it.”
Brian was given the opportunity to name one of our puppies from a recent litter. He opted to choose the name “Waratah”. Most would recognise this name as the bush that is native to some areas of Australia, but Brian shares that the name has a much more personal connection than that.
“I thought it was a good fit because I was struggling to find a word that is used in both my mother and father’s Nations that I thought would really be relevant. The Waratah is a plant that is native to the area near where both my mother and father’s respective nations originated from.”
On the subject of NAIDOC Week, and its significance to him personally, Brian is quick to point out that it’s not just about the issues facing Indigenous people.
“I think NAIDOC Week is significant because it’s creating awareness, but it’s also educating people about issues that they may not even have been aware of.”
Join us on Thursday when we'll have a profile on Alan, who will share with us why he named his NAIDOC Week puppy Nara.