October 04, 2005.
Toowoomba Chronicle, Australia.
TOOWOOMBA'S visually impaired are being forced to choose canes instead of guide dogs because of cost-cutting by Guide Dogs Queensland, according to the organisationís vice-president.
Dr Frank Nothling said the Brisbane office was also rolling back services to Toowoomba, such as home training for the visually impaired in the use of canes and guide dogs, and there were fears the local office would eventually close. "I'm most concerned about what's going on,î he said, with Golden Retriever pal Rowley by his side.
"They are putting us back about 50 years.
"Dr Nothling said Guide Dogs Queensland wanted visually impaired people to use canes rather than dogs, because it was cheaper.
And a visually impaired woman in Wallumbilla had been told she could not have a guide dog because she was too far from Brisbane.
Rumours about the future of the Toowoomba office had been circulating in the blind community since the previous Orientation and Mobility (OM) instructor - a person who helps with training the blind to get around - resigned in anger at the way the organisation was being managed.
Kevin Rowley, who uses a cane, said he was concerned no effort was being made to replace staff as they left.
As well as having no full-time OM instructor, Mr Rowley said, there had been no receptionist in Toowoomba since June and the office always had a "Closed" sign on the door.
Dr Nothling said Guide Dogs Queensland needed to employ a full-time receptionist and OM instructor.
Guide Dogs Queensland chief executive officer Chris Laine said she was working to improve services to regional areas.
Advertising was under way to recruit a new full-time OM instructor for Toowoomba.
Source URL: http://www.thechronicle.com.au/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3655407&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=.
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