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International White Cane Awareness Day

On 15th October, Vision Australia joined millions around the world to celebrate International White Cane Day.

A variety of activities took place, each aimed at building awareness of the vital role the long white cane plays in the lives of those who are blind or who have low vision.

History of the cane

People who are blind have used canes as mobility tools for centuries but it was not until after World War I that the white cane was introduced.

In 1921, a photographer from Bristol who became blind after an accident and was uncomfortable with the amount of traffic around his home, painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible.

Today, the white cane has become an internationally recognised indicator that the bearer is blind or has low vision. Each year, Vision Australia works with thousands of adults and children who are blind or have low vision to enable them to live, work, and travel independently.

How did we celebrate?

Clients from Vision Australia’s Coorparoo site celebrate White Cane Awareness Day with a sensory walk through Brisbane’s Roma Street Parkland.

Gold Coast clients celebrated with a walk through Robina Town Centre. They were joined by NBN journalist Dominique who reported on their celebrations in the evening news. Visit the NBN website for their White Cane Day Report here.

In Wollongong, clients went for a walk in the Puckey’s reserve.

Albury celebrated by walking along Olive Street to Dean street and were joined by The Border Mail, Prime Television and Win News.

Melbourne groups met at Flinders Street Station before travelling to Federation Square and walking up to Bourke Street.

In Sydney, clients met in Circular Quay for a walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the iconic Luna Park clown face. Read about Gwen's experience of the day.

As part of White Cane Day, orientation and mobility specialists held a story telling and activities day for a group of children, based on the book called "Bear Hunt" at Vision Australia Kooyong. There are photos below of white canes spelling out the words 'White Cane Day'.

Most events were followed by morning tea, a picnic lunch, a barbeque or a catch up at a local café.

 White canes aligned to spell out the words White Cane Day on the slope of a hill with the kids and bears at the top of the hill
Children's White Cane Day - Bear Hunt
 White Canes spelling out the words White Cane Day on grass
White canes spell out the words 'White Cane Day'.
A group photo of clients from Vision Australia Coorparoo out in Brisbane

White Cane Day in Brisbane
Group of people in a bus holding balloons and signs for White Cane Day White Cane Day in Robina, Gold Coast
 Group of people standing in front of a view of the Sydney Harbour as part of their day out for White Cane Day
White Cane Day in Sydney
 Group of people walking through a Gold Coast shopping centre with balloons and signs for White Cane Day
White Cane Day in Robina, Gold Coast

What did people have to say about the day?

Karen, State Manager, Queensland

Vision Australia is a member of the Queensland White Cane Committee.

Every year we hold a dinner on 15 October and on Tuesday 80 people celebrated International White Cane Safety Day at the Salisbury Bowls Club.

The Queensland White Cane Committee is made up of a number of blindness organisations in Queensland and Lions District Q1 and Q3. The inaugural Hazel and Louis Foundation Memorial Junior White Cane Award was presented to Sean Kendrick, a 9 year old boy who receives services from Vision Australia. He was so excited and spontaneously thanked Steve, his Vision Australia Orientation and Mobility instructor. The Hazel and Louis Sanders Foundation Memorial White Cane User Award was presented to an adult who uses a cane to give the mobility needed to participate in all aspects of life. The award for the adult white cane user has occurred every year since 1970. An 11 year old boy read the proclamation from the Premier of Queensland in Braille.

Coral, Enfield Local Client Group

The Enfield Local Client Group had 4 members at the Bridge Walk organised by Vision Australia's mobility team. In glorious weather, the bridge walk was great...I always encourage everyone I come across to become involved in activities...

Barry, Albury Local Client Group

We had a great time in Albury for White Cane Day. Seven clients from Vision Australia walked down the main street to have coffee, and all with canes except one and that was Lu with her new dog guide Ziggy.
The border mail took a picture and wrote a little story on Adam and Jeanette.
This was a great experience and I would recommend it to all clients.