REMOVE HARMFUL OBSTACLES
It has been revealed that over 70 per cent of Australian white cane users are put in danger by everyday objects.
Common objects like cars parked across driveways, bins left out on footpaths, dumped bikes or scooters, and even people being distracted by mobile devices can impact the freedom and independence of people with low vision or blindness.
On International White Cane Day (15 October), Guide Dogs Australia is focusing on how everyone can take simple steps to create a safer and more accessible environment for all, especially as communities re-open after extended periods of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Our 'Keep Clear and Carry On' campaign highlights the very real impact these everyday objects can have on people living with low vision and blindness - causing them to feel anxious, unsafe and in danger when travelling. This can add to someone's travel time, change daily routines or even cause some people to withdraw from going about day-to-day life.
Everyone has been doing a fantastic job to support one another during the pandemic, including our more vulnerable communities. However, our clients tell us there are still some simple ways we can make our streets more accessible for people with low vision or blindness.
Move your bin off the footpath, don't dump bikes and scooters in public spaces, pop your cafe chair back under the table before you move off, look up from your mobile phone while you're out and about or call your local council to report issues such as unsafe footpaths or fallen or overgrown branches.
White canes are designed to maximise independence and mobility, so this year we want to bring to light the barriers preventing this and raise awareness, so white cane users can carry on with reaching their independent goals.
Dale Cleaver, CEO at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT
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YOUTH FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES
Fifteen-year-old Jacinta Carter is typical of the many young Australians concerned about climate change and disenchanted with their government's inaction (The Daily Advertiser, October 11).
Over one million young Australians will be eligible to vote for the first time and many will remember their Prime Minister angrily telling them in Parliament in 2018 that they should stay in class rather than protest.
Young people know how to organise and it is significant that they plan to hold "live enrol-to-vote strikes and online enrol-to-vote actions". Young Australians have the most at stake which is why, in a YouGov survey of 15,000 Australians, nearly 80 per cent in the 18 to 24 age group said the government needs to do more or much more to address climate change.
Older Australians should support students who participate in the October 15 School Strike. The Australian Psychological Society states: "Having the opportunity to share and act on their concerns about the climate crisis can boost young people's self-efficacy, hopefulness and resilience. Dismissing their feelings and denying or ignoring the climate crisis can negatively impact their wellbeing."
As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "Youth comes but once in a lifetime". And now the lifetime of youth is under threat from climate change. Who can blame them for fighting for their lives?
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
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