Shan Rowledge celebrates 45 years at Guide Dogs

December 19, 2023
A person standing outside and leaning against a wall looking at the camera with a smile on their face.

Recently, Shan Rowledge was presented with her Long Service Award by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT after an incredible 45 years. We caught up with her to find out exactly what has kept her coming back year after year and how much the organisation has changed since she started in 1978.

Shan has worn many hats during her time at Guide Dogs – from Assistant to the CEO to Client Services Administrator and now Receptionist – but regardless of her role, the one constant for Shan has been the altruistic nature of the organisation and its people. “The culture and the rationale and the strategy really of how we operate has always been what I would admire,” says Shan.

Shan has unsurprisingly seen a lot of change since she began working for Guide Dogs, she recalls when the organisation, which was called ‘Royal Guide Dogs Australia’ at the time, had only three instructors and a few names on a whiteboard for the instructors to go out and visit.

“We had to get Guide Dog Instructors from Melbourne, and we had two Orientation and Mobility Instructors (O&M) working in Sydney and then it’s just grown from there,” she explains.

One of the biggest changes Shan saw was the introduction of computers in 1985, which brought a monumental shift in the way people worked. Shan, understandably, describes that period as a “struggle” with many new challenges for people to get their heads around including ‘floppy disks’, which she had to backup every Friday night.

Shan has also bared witness to the incredible change in both the variety and scale of support Guide Dogs offers people with low vision or blindness. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has grown from a small team operating out of Sydney into multiple teams working across regional NSW and ACT, providing all manner of services including O&M, Occupational Therapy (OT), Assistive Technology (AT) and more. Beyond our services, however, Guide Dogs has grown to become a source of empowerment for our Clients as well as strong advocates for improved accessibility and inclusion of people with disability. “Clients want more than just their mobility training. I think that’s the big change. It’s fantastic,” says Shan.

Shan is a testament to the strength of the Guide Dogs culture, it’s because of high-character individuals like her that we have been so successful in building a strong brand that is respected by both employees and the community.

“It’s absolutely a wonderful organisation in which to be employed, simply because of our credibility and ethos,” she says. If anyone would know, it’s Shan.


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