NSW Department of Education | The Arts Unit - Aboriginal Initiatives
At Matrix CNI, we’re proud to have a long-standing relationship with the NSW Department of Education. That’s why when they asked us to help by supporting The Arts Unit - Aboriginal Initiatives, we were honoured to play our part in bringing the cultural heritage of the students to life.
Aboriginal Dance Program:
One of the key initiatives we supported was the Aboriginal Dance Program, delivered in collaboration with Bangarra Dance Theatre. In 2022, this program developed the skills of 730 students and 140 teachers in contemporary Indigenous dance.
On stage performances:
Following two week-long intensive learning sessions, the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company students performed at the 2022 State Dance Festival at the Seymour Centre, the Schools Spectacular at Qudos Bank Arena televised on Channel 7, and selected students were chosen to perform at the NSW Department of Education’s Nanga Mai awards at the Sydney Opera House.
Through our sponsorship, we helped support the workshops, production of resources and covered travel and accommodation costs that otherwise would have prevented participation for many of the students who are from rural and remote area.
We believe the impact of our sponsorship extends beyond dance, as awe-inspiring as the performances were. Supporting these initiatives also helps students foster a deeper understanding of their culture and identity. Through this experience they achieve a sense of belonging, built through a culture of respect and appreciation for their unique heritage and contributions to Australian society. We are truly moved by the passion and talent of the students and are proud to be a part of their journey towards an exciting future.
Supporting people with sight loss
Matrix CNI takes social responsibility seriously, so along with our other community contributions we have decided to help the NSW/ACT Guide Dogs in their quest to support people with sight loss. It takes over 2 years to raise, train and transform playful pups into brilliant Guide Dogs and Therapy Dogs - a journey only made possible by support like ours.
PUPDATE OCTOBER 2021
Our Managing Director, Deni, has recently undertaken with the help of his family, the raising of thier second Guide Dog pup. This is his story of naviagting this amazing opportunity during the grips of a global pandemic.
Raising a guide dog during the Pandemic
In 2020, my wife, Maria and our family decided that we wanted to continue to support Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for the great work they do and the results they achieve in helping the blind and vision impaired.
Just as the pandemic started, we took on our second guide dog to raise. Her name, Yoanna.
She was delivered to us at just 8 weeks old and we could tell straight away that she was strong and full of attitude. We were quickly reminded why the Guide Dogs’ organisation are so appreciative of our efforts. Having a new puppy around is like having a new-born baby in the house. Lack of sleep, odd sleeping hours, cleaning up the messy toileting, checks during the night, the rush to check in the morning and watching the clock until the next meal. There is whining, crying, mess, noise … and then there’s the dog.
Every space in the house was her territory, and everything not tied down or heavy was her toy to play with.
Like most labradors, she loved eating, playing and sleeping. She also loved being outside in the sun and fresh air. Although somewhat lazy at first, she eventually grew fond of walking. Good thing, as walking closely and properly will be of paramount importance in her future responsibilities.
The question we get asked the most is ‘how can you raise them from cute puppies to adulthood and let them go?’ Though difficult, we prefer to think about the end result, of the freedom and mobility they give someone with a vision impairment.
Whether you want to or not, you can’t help but to love them. Believe me, they are loved, and they continue to be loved by their sight impaired partner when they’re placed in their new home later on. In between their foster families and new homes, they spend their time at the Guide Dogs facility, where they are cared for and loved by the Guide Dogs’ incredible caring and dedicated staff.
After raising our first pup, Richie, in 2013/14, the family thought ‘how different could it be with the second pup?’ Well, very different! The Guide Dogs organisation have improved and refined their approach and techniques, meaning new things to learn. And like many organisations during this pandemic, they were forced to rethink the status quo. For example, pre-pandemic, all training was in person and human face to puppy face. During the pandemic, due to government restrictions, all the initial training was conducted online.
After the first few sessions we were thinking, this is disastrous. There were dogs barking, crying, sleeping and going outside during training. But just like today’s toddlers, the pups quickly adapted to the digital age and settled into the online sessions.
Raising Richie, our first pup, was mainly left to Maria and I, as our boys were still young at the time. However, raising Yoanna was a family affair, with everyone pitching in. In addition to the online training, we had to train pups offline – including the running of practice drills. Of which, the boys ran the majority.
When restrictions eased, training was both online and in person, which was a relief for the raisers, trainers, as well as the pups.
You would think that time would drag on when working from home, the children doing uni online from home, waiting for the next online order delivery to arrive etc, but before we knew it, 12 months was up. Yoanna was to return to the Guide Dogs for 3 weeks, to undergo her thorough assessment to determine whether she would push on to become a fully-fledged guide dog or become a breeder dog. Unsurprisingly, she made it! We believe mainly because she is so food obsessed. The things labs will do for one kibble… She will leave us this week, to go into 5 months of intensive training to become a guide dog. She’s not fully qualified yet, as the training is intense and the testing is vigorous. She can be cut anytime, so we wish her and the trainers luck. Most importantly, if Yoanna makes it, we wish her new companion all the best with her by their side.
We’ll miss you Yoanna, you are on an important journey for a great cause. Enjoy your new job, we hope you get spoiled in your working life, and long into retirement.
We also help by sponsoring Bud as he undertakes his journey to grow from a cute and cuddly tail-wagger to a loyal and trusted companion. As Bud continues to develop along his journey, we will posts his ‘Pupdates’.
PUPDATE MAY 2021
We have recently received news from Bud, who is now 18 months old and headed back to the Guide Dogs Centre. Here, he will be assessed on his abilities, temperament and personality, while undertaking a rigorous five-month-long training program.
Bud is an “enthusiastic boy who always tries his best” and, like many puppies, is notably strong in the areas of meeting new people and getting cuddles. These traits will hold him in good stead for his upcoming two-week temperament assessment where instructors will note his reaction to many different situations that he may encounter in day-to-day environments – including how he’ll react to a sandwich on the ground!
The next steps for Bud.
- A health check from a veterinarian to ensure he is in top shape and equipped to walk the estimated 9,000kms a Guide Dog will travel during their life.
- Careful assessment over several long walks, determining his eagerness to work and his ability to display good concentration.
- Learning to place himself and his trainer in the safest positions on the pavement during walks.
- Understanding more about Bud’s unique personality and temperament, which are of the utmost importance for the matching process, if Bud is to graduate as a Guide Dog.
We wish Bud all the best over the coming pivotal months in his Guide Dog journey!
PUPDATE JULY 2020
Bud has recently shared his new way of training with us!
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, NSW/ACT Guide Dogs have had to change the way they train to keep puppies on track to becoming service dogs. Bud is now joining us in the world of technology by participating in virtual puppy classes, helping him stay engaged and continue learning his basic foundation skills.
After training, Bud is keeping his family entertained during play time and providing some much-needed companionship!