TAPPING TAR: Aunty Mary Hooker and her cane guide Gavin Stait on a safe street crossing.
TAPPING TAR: Aunty Mary Hooker and her cane guide Gavin Stait on a safe street crossing. Contributed

Aunty Mary answers NAIDOC Week call

INDIGENOUS elder Aunty Mary Hooker has a full dance card for her upcoming visit to the Coffs Coast for NAIDOC Week.

The Bundjalung woman will be at Coffs Harbour Showground on July 5 as a guest in the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT information stand at the Who Ya Gunna Call forum.

She will also visit family fun days in Nambucca Heads and Grafton during her stay.

Aunty Mary lost her sight to diabetes and will speak about the importance of maintaining a healthier lifestyle to prevent this illness.

"I think it's important for other Aboriginal people to hear my story and understand it is important to take your health seriously and listen to your doctor,” she said.

"Most cases of blindness in Aboriginal people are preventable and I want to prevent others losing their sight like me.”

A keen knitter and painter, she will be bringing along a giant 5.5 metre scarf she knitted in the colours of the Aboriginal flag as an example of how she keeps busy.

"Guide Dogs came to my home to teach me cane training, how to get to the shops, cross the road safely and move around my community on my own.

"I wouldn't have gained my confidence without the free training and support.

"Now I have a cane in Aboriginal colours and it makes me feel proud.”

Guide Dogs orientation and mobility specialists will be on hand at the forum to speak to anyone who may be experiencing or know someone experiencing sight loss.

Regional manager Jeremy Hill said Aboriginal adults are six times more likely to be blind than other Australians.

"Yet 94% of vision loss in Indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable,' he said.

"We're hoping our information stand will help to reduce these worrying statistics by providing eye health advice and practical solutions if they are having trouble getting around due to vision loss.”

For information visit www.guidedogs.com.au or call the Coffs Harbour office on 6285 2988.