Guide Dogs Partnership Playing a Key Role in Taxi Driver Training Standards

18 August 2015 | NSW Taxi Council

The NSW Taxi Industry today celebrates a milestone in the training of new taxi drivers. 

An incredible 10,000 drivers over 10 years have now received specialised tuition as part of the continuum of training new taxi industry entrants.

The NSW Taxi Council facilitates training seminars for taxi drivers in their first year with presentations from a variety of organisations and government agencies including Roads and Maritime Services, the NSW Police, WorkCover and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

One of the most popular presentations at these seminars is that of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

To mark the 10 year anniversary of this specialised training, the NSW Taxi Council and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is holding an event with an opportunity for guests to meet the Taxi Council’s sponsor puppy, now fully-fledged Guide Dog, Darcy.

The NSW Taxi Industry is dedicated to providing safe, efficient and comfortable services for the community, including those travelling with Guide Dogs as well as other passengers with vision impairment.   

Jennifer Moon, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Community Education Coordinator, said at every taxi driver training seminar, a person with vision impairment talks to taxi drivers about their own experiences in a taxi. They are also taught skills to assist passengers with vision impairment.

CEO of the NSW Taxi Council, Roy Wakelin-King, said that the partnership between NSW Taxi Council and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT emphasises the importance of trained, professional taxi drivers.

“Our mission is to educate drivers about their responsibility to provide the best possible customer service,” Mr Wakelin-King said.

“Everyone in our society deserves equal access to transport services and I congratulate our drivers for their commitment and dedication in assisting customers with special needs and accommodating assistance animals.”

Elaine Heskett with Guide Dog Darcy
Elaine Heskett is now the proud owner of NSW Taxi Council sponsor puppy Darcy.

At the end of each session, drivers have put their hands into their own pockets to support the free services offered by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. Over the years, taxi drivers have raised the $35,000 it took to breed, raise and train Guide Dog, Darcy.

Darcy is the trusted companion of NSW South Coast resident Elaine Heskett who describes him as her “eyes and constant companion”.

Mrs Heskett thanked Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the NSW Taxi Council for their assistance after her previous Guide Dog was retired.  

“I will forever be grateful to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the NSW Taxi Council for all [they] have done to fund, care and train [Darcy] for me. [They] have helped provide him with the skills so necessary to make us into the best team possible,” she said. 

Mr Wakelin-King said Guide Dogs NSW/ACT did an outstanding job training Guide Dogs and, as an accredited transport provider, the NSW Taxi Council sees it as a responsibility to work closely with Guide Dogs and other key stakeholders to ensure drivers are adequately trained in providing a universal service.

“It is vital in our industry that regulatory standards are upheld for people with special needs and we are very proud of our improved performance in this area,” he said.