Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has been awarded the Freedom Award by Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) for allowing access to the venue while Melbourne was in lockdown, to enable Guide Dogs and their owners/trainers to continue vital training despite Stage 4 restrictions. The Award was presented to MCEC on Wednesday April 29, International Guide Dog Day.

The Freedom Award is presented by Guide Dogs Victoria to an external organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to Guide Dogs Victoria.

When Stage 4 lockdown was implemented, the new restrictions meant GDV were unable to have enough Guide Dog Trainers onsite to continue preparing the dogs for their formal Guide Dog assessments.

MCEC caught wind of the trouble GDV were facing and contacted them to see if their facility could be of any use, resulting in a fantastic partnership which allowed GDV to access large training spaces on the expo floor, escalators, café seating, auditoriums, stairs and a variety of floor surfaces for both Clients and Guide Dogs - all in a quiet, controlled and private space close to CBD requirements.

The partnership helped approximately ten Clients directly either supplementing their training with a new dog or via an awareness / assessment program. MCEC was utilised in the training of approximately 50 dogs and to assess the potential of around 30 applicants for Guide Dog Trainer Cadet and Puppy Development Advisor roles. 

Further opportunities are now being discussed such as a peer support introduction day for parents via our Early Childhood Support team.