Dog Guide Handlers Australia (DGHA) is a national association which provides a voice for Australians who are blind or vision impaired, and who are dog guide handlers.

DGHA strives to foster, represent, promote, enhance and protect the interests of Australians who are blind or vision impaired, and who are dog guide handlers.

Photo in Memory of DGHA founding member, Judith Killen, with her dog guide Elton, showing the city of Perth, Western Australia in the background.

First Dog Guide Handlers Australia Conference

A first in Australia! This year, on the weekend of 6th and 7th September, Dog Guide Handlers Australia held its first ever conference. Held in Adelaide at the Grand Chifley, the conference was a fantastic success bringing Dog Guide Handlers, their dog guides, instructors and speakers from around Australia together, to participate in a range of workshops and engage in some great networking and peer support activity.

Large group photo of conference attendees with their dog guides.

During the conference dinner, the inaugural Dog Guide Handlers Australia Judith Killen Golden Harness Award was presented. This award is presented to a person for their outstanding efforts in fostering, representing, promoting, enhancing and protecting the interests of Australians who are blind or vision impaired and who use a dog guide.

Photo of the Golden Harness Award.

Dog Guide Handlers Australia would like to congratulate Rowena Dowling, the first ever recipient of the Judith Killen Golden Harness Award.

Peter Greco from the RPH Adelaide radio show "Focal Point" interviewed Rowina on her receiving the award. Rowina's interview is about 10 minutes in. To listen go to Focal Point

Group photo of conference attendees.

Episode 366 of the Blind Citizens Australia radio show, New Horizons, featured Joyce Jones, an attendee at the DGHA 2014 conference, and Rowena Dowling, speaking on recieving her Golden Harness Award.

to listen go to New Horizons episode 366

Conference Recordings

Recordings of the DGHA 2014 Conference are now availible. Please use the links below to access the audio. Some files are quite large and might take a few minutes to start.

Day 1 - Saturday 6 September 2014.

  • Workshop 1 After a rollcall we hear from David Foran on Dog Guides and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Audio length around 110 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 2 We hear From Paul Adrian, Manager Guide Dog Services - Victoria Guide Dogs, about the history of dog guide training up to the latest Clicker Training methods. Audio length around 75 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 3 We hear from Harry Van Der Jagt, National Manager Client Services - Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, and some experienced dog guide handlers about the range of equipment used with dog guides. Audio length around 50 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 4 Dorothy Docherty, Consumer Advisory Representative - Guide Dogs Victoria, and Nadia Mattiazzo - Consumer Advisory Representative - Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, speak about dog guide handlers and schools working together. Audio length around 55 minutes in MP3 format.
  • DGHA 2014 AGM Dog Guide Handlers Australia 2014 Annual General Meeting. Audio length around 30 minutes in MP3 format.

Day 2 - Sunday 7 September 2014.

  • Workshop 5 Beth Critchley, Certified canine natural therapist from Naturopaws, speaks about caring for your dog guide. Audio length around 40 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 6 Harry van der Jagt, National Manager Client Services SEDA, speaks about the New SEDA kennels and Recent discussions with Melbourne Zoo on Dog Guide Access. Audio length around 50 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 7 Daisy Holt, cadet Guide Dog Mobility Instructor - Royal Society for the Blind South Australia, speaks about training with other breeds for use as dog guides. Audio length around 30 minutes in MP3 format.
  • Workshop 8 Dog Guide Handlers Australia members, Nadia Mattiazzo, Nicole Damarra and Tracey Cross discuss various issues including - traveling with your dog guide, dog distraction, pet insurance, retiring a dog guide and starting with a new dog guide and tips and tricks. Audio length around 45 minutes in MP3 format.

Photo of conference attendees enjoying their lunch; dog guides everywhere!

Dog Guide Handlers Australia would like to thank Guide Dogs Australia, Seeing Eye dogs Australia, the Royal Society for the Blind, Naturopaws, Blue Print Studios and BM PetSnax (supplying dog treats) for their support of the 2014 Dog Guide Handlers Australia conference.


DGHA is an independent association of dog guide handlers, and is not affiliated with any dog guide school.


DGHA draws on the experiences and varied knowledge of its members, to provide peer support, advocacy and information to dog guide handlers throughout Australia.


Dog Guide Handlers Australia was formed in August 2009 by four passionate people who were inspired by similar groups which exist in other countries.

DGHA was registered as an incorporated association in January 2011.

DGHA does not have a physical office, and we have no paid staff.
The DGHA Committee is a group of dedicated volunteers who meet regularly via teleconference.

Some of the issues we are advocating for include:


Dog Guide Handlers Australia is now on Facebook, and Twitter. please use the social networking links below to participate in our online discussion forums, post comments, and keep informed of upcoming events and members meetings.