Mayor Margaret O’Rourke in a blindfolded walk.

GUIDE Dogs Victoria has celebrated the official opening of new premises in Bendigo.

The organisation has settled into its Wills Street site and yesterday thanked the City of Greater Bendigo for its support through the community grants program, which helped establish the Bendigo base.

Guide Dogs Victoria provides those living with low vision or blindness more convenient access to services, and the decision to expand into Bendigo comes as a result of strong demand during the past two years for guide dog services in the area.

GDV’s range of tailored offerings will now be delivered through the convenience and care of the Bendigo office, which will be fully supported by GDV’s main office in Kew.

GDV says its new site will enable it to be even more responsive to clients’ needs with staff equipped with local knowledge improving outcomes for local residents.

One of the key features of the office will be the inclusion of a Vision Shop which will offer assistive equipment and technology for clients to purchase.

As part of yesterday’s opening ceremonies, Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke was called on to cut a celebratory cake. There were also tours of the new premises and Cr O’Rourke took part in a blindfolded walk, wearing glasses to simulate low vision in an experience she later described as “very confronting’’.

Guide Dogs Victoria offers a suite of programs including Children/Youth Services, Adult Services, Acquired Brain Injury Mobility Services and Occupational Therapy Services.

The organisation receives less than 10 per cent of government funding for services other than Guide Dog Mobility, which is reliant on community donations exclusively.

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