Vision Australia’s Valley volunteer

Teamwork: Phillip Chalker's is aided by his support worker Kristie Wilkinson and Seeing Eye Dog, Sally. Photograph: Zaida Glibanovic




LOCAL musician and disability advocate Phillip Chalker has organised 10 Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dog donation collection boxes in Traralgon in the last month, with goals to expand.


Mr Chalker uses his own experiences being legally blind to advocate for those with disabilities. Now volunteering his time for Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, Mr Chalker wants to make more positive changes.


“Out of my own passion … I wanna make society better for people with disabilities in general,” he said.


Mr Chalker has benefited from the work that Vision Australia do, having had a seeing eye dog since 2007.


“I’ve got my own seeing eye dog and I’m up to my fourth seeing eye dog already,” he said.


When asked how having his seeing eye dog has benefited him, Mr Chalker stated: “It helps us people who are blind or visually impaired to bring us independence and freedom and just having a dog in your life. It’s a joy and companion.”


Mr Chalker is convincing local businesses to take on a collection box, by interacting and engaging with business owners. Mr Chalker takes in his guide dog, Sally to showcases the benefits of Vision Australia’s program.


“Taking in my lovely dog … and seeing a blind person do it with a dog and all that kinda stuff it inspires them, they’re really seeing what their money is gonna be worth,” he said.


While some seeing eye dogs are financed by government programmes, Vision Australia rely largely on the generosity and support of volunteers and supporters to deliver their services. One seeing eye dog can costs more than $50,000 and requires up to two years of intense training.


Money from the collection boxes will be collected by Mr Chalker personally. The donations from the community will help fund the training of guide dogs like Sally to be able to improve the lives of the vision impaired.


Vision Australia stated they were lucky to have volunteers like Mr Chalker. “Vision Australia seeing eye dogs is fortunate to be supported by hundreds of volunteers each year, many of whom live with blindness or low vision themselves. Their incredible contribution is vital to the work we do to support the blind and low vision community.”


Philip, who is a Seeing Eye Dogs client himself, has done an amazing job in the Latrobe Valley area and has helped our collection dog program grow across a number of local businesses and bring in funds that support the breeding, training and development of future Seeing Eye Dogs.”


Mr Chalker has organised nine collection boxes in Traralgon and one in Glengarry. The locations include: Yarragon Country Style Bakery, Traralgon; Lunas Delights; A&P Music store; Thrifty Eyewear, Traralgon; Tiffany’s Florist; Silly Solly; Traralgon Bakery; Schnitz Traralgon; Handsome Dan’s Barber Shop and the Pallet and Kiln studio. Mr Chalker isn’t done yet, stating he has plans to roll out more donation collection boxes across the Valley.


Vision Australia are the only national provider of trained dogs, which help to provide independence for people who are blind or have low vision.


If your business would like to help out, you can phone 1300 84 74 66, or if you would like to donate directly to Vision Australia’s Seeing Eye Dog Program, head to