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Giant guide dog tours Sydney for access rights…and a new name!

When the opportunity came to launch the biggest guide dog model anyone had ever seen, Palin Communications and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT took the challenge by the collar and created a unique story opportunity for Sydney media.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's unveiled their latest graduate – a 4.3 metre high model guide dog that is identical to their distinctive collection boxes. It was launched in Sydney on 3 March 2010 to emphasise the point that guide dogs can indeed go anywhere. Research still shows that one in four Australian adults are still not aware that guide dogs are allowed into restaurants and other hospitality venues, and there are still reports of guide dog users being refused entry into certain establishments.

Like all newly graduated guide dogs, the giant model dog set off from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's Training Centre in Glossodia, before touring through Sydney visiting Penrith, Parramatta, the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Chatswood and Bondi Beach.

While the model will serve as a prominent reminder about access, it will now go on to form the centrepiece of a major fundraising drive to help raise much needed funds for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT's free services.

Suburban media took the opportunity to prepare stories and photos of the giant model dog visiting their local areas, while the Sydney Morning Herald prepared an online story about guide dog access rights.

Media is still being generated well after the launch and we look forward to seeing the giant guide dog on the road in the near future.

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Reducing the risk of death

Martin Palin - Tuesday, June 03, 2014
There was a story in the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend (31/5/14 p19) that was about how people who leave prison are more likely commit suicide than the general community. I get all this – my first job out of university was in the NSW Department of Corrective Services interviewing prisoners about how they were being treated in jail. Even a young psychology graduate like me could tell lots of these guys were going to leave jail troubled, unhappy, dislocated and dysfunctional.

But it’s quite another thing to suggest – as the journalist did – that prisoners leave jail with “a higher risk of death than people outside.” Because guess what? The risk of death is pretty absolute and it is something that is coming for us all. 

You see these odd descriptions in reporting on cancer medicines too, where the focus is typically on “survival rates”. A survival rate is time-limited and the patients are not necessarily cured.  Because no one survives forever.

The key issue relates to “premature death”. Lifestyle choices (smoking, getting screened for cancer, eating well, exercising etc) affect your risk of premature death. 

But let’s not mince words. We’re all going to die. Keeping your cholesterol down might possibly add a few years to your total time on the planet – but that’s it.

This idea that we can “reduce the risk of death” is important in a whole range of discussions about palliative care, dying with dignity, cancer diagnoses and healthy ageing. 

I’ve worked on the marketing and PR for lots of new expensive oncology medicines. On my count most of them offer (on average) somewhere between 2 and 8 months additional months of life compared to not using them. They are important months. Enough time for people to get their affairs in order and say some emotional goodbyes to people they love. But we shouldn’t pretend we have decreased their chances of dying.   

I also heard an ICU nurse on radio last week lamenting the words from relatives that send a shudder through her when helping very sick elderly patients with limited options. “Do whatever you can. Never mind the expense.”

We’re all going to go. 

I hope I can keep my dignity and relativism when I’m older. When the diagnosis comes and I’m weighing up my treatment options I’ll just remind myself that no treatment or surgery can reduce my risk of death. That no-one can “save me no matter the cost”. 

I’m determined to leave with dignity. Or at the very least die trying. 

Martin Palin 
Managing Director, Palin Communications
martin@palin.com.au 



© 2012 Palin Communications

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