Support for Clients adapting to new COVID-19 regulations

March 26, 2020

We want to ensure Clients receive the best possible support and care during these unprecedented changes to our normal way of life.

Guide Dogs is continuing to provide services to Clients, however face-to-face contact has been suspended temporarily.

New servicing arrangements

  • Tele-practice services

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been progressively moving to introduce more tele-practice in our servicing of Clients.

In NSW/ACT, we were planning to increase our use of tele-practice to support Clients using assistive technology and for Client connection.  This has been fast-tracked due to the current environment.

We want to involve our Clients in the co-design of our tele-practice services and are working with the members of our two Regional Advisory Committees to plan out how best to incorporate as wide a feedback and ideas as possible.

We will keep you updated as we work through the details of how best to deliver our services through this and other technologies.

  • Telephone support

Telephone contact is being made with as many Clients as possible to assess their needs and requirements.

Clients can contact their Guide Dog staff member in their local area, or phone the head office (now located in St Leonards) on 02 9412 9300 if urgent assistance is required.

  • Assistance with online grocery shopping

We have had feedback that some Clients may be experiencing difficulties obtaining food and grocery items

NDIS funded Clients can now access a priority home delivery service for grocery items following an agreement between the NDIA and the major supermarket retailers.

Visit the Priority Home Delivery Service page on the NDIS webpage.

Woolworths and Coles have also established priority online shopping for people with a disability who are eligible. Go to Woolworths Online Priority Shopping or Coles Online Priority Shopping.

  • Travel in taxis and ride share services with Guide Dogs

Guide Dog Handlers are being asked to sit in the backseat of their ride to meet social distancing requirements.

For more information read this important safety message for Guide Dog Handlers using taxis and ride share services for travel.

Other relevant supports

Shopping and Groceries

Both Coles and Woolworths supermarkets have assistance available for the elderly, people in self isolation and those with a disability.


Priority home delivery service. You need to register for this service by completing the online form at or by calling 1800000610.

In-store dedicated shopping hour for the elderly and people with a disability every week day between 7AM and 8AM. This applies to all stores.


Coles are yet to release their online priority delivery service for those who are vulnerable, in isolation or who have a disability. It is anticipated to be available via the Coles online website at the end of this week (27/03/2020).

Phone: 1800455400

The Coles community hour is a dedicated shopping hour available for the elderly and people with a disability on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 7AM and 8AM. This hour is available in all Coles stores.

Sighted Assistance:


If you own an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can easily use FaceTime to make free video calls to trusted family or friends.

If they are already in your contacts, just ask Siri to FaceTime the person. For example, “FaceTime John Smith.” Then, you will have a high quality audio and video connection. Point the camera on the back of your device to whatever you want them to see. If you are a VoiceOver user, you can end the call with the familiar two finger double tap.

Please note that the other person must also have one of these Apple devices. FaceTime does use your mobile data if you are not connected to Wi-Fi.

Give this a try for a great, free way to gain some sighted assistance from someone you know and trust.

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is a completely free service which connects people with blindness or low vision to sighted assistance via the Be My Eyes smartphone app. The service is available 24 hours a day.

Search for ‘Be My Eyes’ in the app store or Google Play store and download it.

Register as a person with low vision or blindness and create your account using an email address.

After registering you can use the app to make a video call using your smartphone camera.

The call will be answered by a randomly selected volunteer sighted assistant.

They will see what is around you via the back-facing smartphone camera and you can have a two-way audio conversation to get assistance.

Be My Eyes volunteers can assist with tasks around the home and while out for example, reading product packaging, identifying colours, sorting clothing, operating electrical appliances and more.

Sighted assistants are volunteers so it is important to be mindful of the tasks you choose to use Be My Eyes for, and the locations in which you use it.


Aira is a paid subscription based service providing access to trained sighted assistance.

Aira can be used for tasks around the home and for support to access inaccessible software, graphs, images etc. while working or studying from home.

The first 5 minutes of every Aira call is free. Aira is also offering free services to any college student for the remainder of the semester (Ending May 2020). Support to use inaccessible software, graphs and images can be provided.

Visit to Aira website or download the Aira app from the app store or Google Play store.

Well-being and mental health

Guide Dogs Peer Support

The peer support program provides volunteers to speak with Clients who would benefit from one-to-one telephone contact with a person with lived experience.

The program aims to meet an identified need for emotional support and provide effective information.

Support can be provided via the phone on challenges, mobility concerns and effects of low vision or blindness.

The Client is matched to a volunteer of similar age range and with similar experience. Please keep in mind these are volunteers and not qualified counsellors.

Call 02 9412 9300 to access this service.

Life Line

Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with acces to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Phone: 13 11 14

Blind Alive: Free Accessible Fitness (Eyes Free)

Blind Alive provides a complete set of fitness audio exercise programs. All programs are completely free for downloading.

Visit their website –

Macular disease

The Macular Disease Foundation Australia is a patient-focused organisation providing support and services across all macular diseases, including diabetic eye disease.

The national helpline is 1800 111 709.

MAFD is providing a Macular Disease Community Tele Outreach Program, targeting patients who are on anti-VEGF treatment – for neovascular AMD and DME.

MAFD has ceased delivery of education forums in aged care facilities but until further notice.  These are being replaced with webinar consumer education sessions.

Blind Citizens Australia

Facilitating Virtual Interaction – BCA Happy Hours

From Monday, 30th March BCA will begin offering daily catch ups which you can join online or via phone for people who are blind or have low vision, regardless of whether they are a BCA member or not.

The first two weeks of meetings will focus on hearing from you around how BCA can support you to remain connected during these changing times as well as provide a social outlet whilst we are all self-isolating.

Based on your feedback, they will then provide you with an updated schedule of virtual catchups and activities.

On Wednesday 25th March, CEO Emma Bennison provided some more information about these catch ups, why they are important, and what you can expect from them.

This will be via video that will be posted on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages. Information will also be available via New Horizons.

The BCA Happy Hours will take place on:

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:00am – 12:00pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30pm – 8:30pm

You can continue to contact BCA in all of the usual ways:

Federal Government support of businesses and households

Below are the links to new measures the Federal Government has introduced to support business and households during the COVID-19 pandemic. support line:
13 28 46

Small or medium business with reduced cash flow?
Here’s what we’re doing to boost your cash flow. 

Is your business financially distressed?
This is what we’re doing to support you.

Assisting the economic recovery
Here’s how we’ll support you to grow.

Employ an apprentice or trainee?
This support is for you.

Are you a sole trader that has lost business?
This is what we’re doing to support you and your business.

Household finances hit by reduced work?
Here’s what we’re doing to help support your family budget.

Payments to support households.

For more information on Coronavirus and the Government’s response, please visit: or


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Register and raise funds to fetch a PAWdometer for your dog.