Newsroom

Paul next to piano

A star on the rise!

Paul Kapeleris’ life changed in an instant when his musical career skyrocketed to fame after an extraordinary performance of Andra Day’s Rise Up on popular television program, Australia’s Got Talent earlier this year. The now 23 year old with the angelic voice and exceptional piano playing skills is the 2019 Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador. The talented musician was born with only 15%; he now only has 5% vision which is slowly deteriorating. Paul found a new meaning for life when his mother encouraged him to start piano lessons at the age of eight. ‘’It was very difficult as I couldn’t see the notes. Basically my teacher told me to practice and feel the notes with my eyes closed. The piano has a set structure so I don’t have to look to play the piano anymore. There’s a lot of muscle memory going on,’’ Paul explained. From a young age, Paul would watch talent shows on television such as X Factor and Australian Idol, and would dream of doing something similar as he grew up. To Paul, music was what gave him the confidence and freedom to truly be himself. Earlier this year, Paul completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in music, which came after years of dedication to the piano and music. Inspired by his mum, music teachers and professors, Kapeleris has had the privilege to learn from a variety of people over the years. Kapeleris finds inspiration across the music industry with his idols being Sam Smith and Chris Stapleton for their ability to connect with their music and audience. ‘’I love Ed Sheeran’s songwriting ability, and Gary LeVox and Tori Kelly for the absolutely stunning vocals. All of these incredible artists have sculpted my own artistry in some way, and I am eternally grateful for their drive and passion to make music.’’ As Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador, Kapeleris hopes to provide inspiration to those who don’t think they are good enough or have what it takes. ‘’Vision Australia has allowed me to live a life I would never have been able to live otherwise. They have provided me with support, got me out of the house with young adult social activities, and have taught me life skills through occupational therapy. Interacting with other people who have vision impairments is an enriching experience that, for me, would only have been possible through Vision Australia.’’ ‘’As someone who has lived with a severe, degenerative vision impairment for all of my life, it means the absolute world to be given this opportunity. We are strong. We are powerful and can do anything.’’ ‘’It is quite daunting knowing that I will be performing in front of an audience of millions of people on Christmas Eve. Not being able to see anything helps! It’s just me and that piano on the stage.’’ The rising-star is treating this journey as something special, something to be cherished with every second . Alongside writing his own music, Kapeleris is willing to take on every opportunity that comes his way, he’s going to grab it with both hands and never let go!     13 Nov 2019
Luna on the playground

She's as bright as the moon...

We’d like to introduce you to someone really special!   Luna is nearly three years old and has approximately 10% vision.   “I had never been around a child who has special needs. When Luna was born it was hard as I just wanted to be in her shoes so she didn’t have to go through what she was dealing with.’’   Sarah was just 19 when she had Luna. When Luna was three months old, she had an MRI scan which showed that she had Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, Nystagmus (where her eyes shake) and one eye turned in. There were also concerns that Luna could have pituitary gland problems.   Luna’s dad Jake knew something wasn’t quite right when he noticed Luna wasn’t focusing on certain objects such as the television and the hanging mobile above her bed.   With Luna being their only child he didn’t have much of a reference, but when he spotted other children and their ability to focus, Jake and Sarah decided to speak to a professional about their daughter.   Once Luna had been diagnosed, Sarah and Jake reached out to Vision Australia to seek support.   Luna is now a happy girl who is comfortable at home but still struggles when she is in a new environment.   The hardest thing for Sarah and Jake is not knowing what the future will hold for their daughter.   “We don’t know if Luna is going to need full time help when she’s 30 years old. It’s difficult not knowing what we’re going to be needing in the future to give her an opportunity to live a full and wonderful life.”     13 Nov 2019
Family sits under a sun tent

It's going to be a hot one!

The weather forecast is in and we’re expecting a warm and sunny 31 degrees for Carols by Candlelight 2018. With that in mind, make sure you’re prepared to have a sun smart and well-hydrated Carols.   Preparing for Carols 31 degrees is hot. Make sure to bring sun smart clothing, hats, and water. If you’re planning on queuing up through the day, make sure you have sun screen and sunglasses. Make sure you reapply your sunscreen every two hours! Any water bottles you bring into the Sidney Myer Music Bowl will need to be emptied before you enter the venue, but you can refill them inside the venue. Water stations are located at the back of the hill, to the right after entering at Gate 1, and inside the Christmas Festival next to our range of food trucks. If you’re feeling the heat, or if you feel unwell for any reason, we have first aid stations set up thanks to St John’s Ambulance. These are at the back of hill, to the right after entering at Gate 1, and inside the Christmas Festival. Run out of sunscreen on the night? No problem! Our first aid stations have extra sunscreen available. As well as water, you can bring your own non-alcoholic beverages on the night. Beverages need to be sealed and in containers not made of glass. Also to be considerate to other guests try and only bring a reasonable amount, a slab of soft drink per person is probably too much. To make sure you get enough shade you’re welcome to bring umbrellas to keep the sun away. Please only bring personal sized umbrellas, without pointy ends (for safety reasons) and make sure they are folded away by 7:45pm so that everyone can see the main performances. If you need a bit of shade but haven’t brought an umbrella, our Christmas Festival area has plenty of shade, as well as activities, rides, and food.   Have questions about what else you can and can’t bring into Carols? Check out our guide here. 19 Dec 2018
Melbourne tram

The best way to get to Carols

So you’ve got your tickets, and you’ve prepared your picnic and your blanket, but what’s the best way to get to Carols? We’ve prepared this little guide to help you have a happy and painless experience getting to the event. Public transport The best way to find out how you should get to Carols on public transport is to check www.ptv.vic.gov.au. PTV have a journey planner which can help you work out the best route from your door to the event. The PTV website will also let you know if there are any delays or issues on the day, so check in! If you’re coming into the city by train the Sidney Myer Music Bowl is about a 15 minute walk (about one kilometre) from Flinders Street station through the Queen Victoria Gardens. You can also catch a tram from Federation Square outside Flinders Street station to the Grant St stop and walk from there. Driving in If you want to drive to Carols make sure you’ve worked out where to park. There will be some accessible parking available on Linlithgow Avenue right outside the Bowl for people with Parking Permit for People with Disabilities. If you’re using these parking spots make sure you have your sticker or pass to display! The next closest available parking is Arts Centre Melbourne, a 10-minute walk from the venue. The best way to enter the Arts Centre Melbourne Car Park is to take the Sturt Street Exit from City Road (when travelling west-bound on City Road) and make a left into the Arts Centre Car Park. Please note that due to road works, you cannot access Southbank Boulevard from St. Kilda Road. Dropping off If you’re getting dropped off at Carols the best spot for you is the corner of Linlithgow Avenue and Government House drive. Friendly staff from the Arts Centre will be based there to offer assistance. If you need assistance there will also be a golf buggy taking people from the corner of Linlithgow Avenue and Government House drive into the Bowl. You can pre-arrange this service by contacting Arts Centre Melbourne on 1300 182 183 or on the day by speaking to Arts Centre staff.   However you’re getting to the event we’re looking forward to seeing you there! And if you’re thinking of travelling light why not read about all the food and drink we’ll have available onsite? 19 Dec 2018
Villa Maria wine bottle

Top food and drinks at our Christmas…

As Carols by Candlelight approaches, we’d like to highlight some of the excellent food providers who are supporting us in 2018. Keep an eye out for these delicious delectations, and so many more, at the Christmas Festival!   Villa Maria Wine Garden For the fourth year in a row. Villa Maria is the highest ranking New Zealand winery in this year’s “World’s Most Admired Wine Brands” list. Said Sir George Fistonich, founder and president of Villa Maria Estate, “being named as the most admired wine brand in New Zealand four years in a row is testament to the level of quality our wines consistently deliver and shows we exceed in all the award criteria. It’s such amazing recognition for Villa Maria and I’m incredibly proud that we continue to rate the highest New Zealand winery on this most prestigious of lists.” A leader in sustainability, innovation and quality, Villa Maria is a family owned winery recognised as an icon in the New Zealand wine industry, and their travelling wine truck will be present at Carols by Candlelight 2018 for you to sample this incredible wine!   Barista coffee by Brewtech Brewtech is an industry leader in the Melbourne specialty coffee market, a coffee-loving team who supply premium equipment, sales and servicing to many of Melbourne's best cafes, restaurants and coffee roasters. Brewtech is very proud to be supporting Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight in 2018. This year Brewtech is also providing coffee for all our staff and performers, giving them the buzz and the energy they need to provide and support such quality entertainment!   Goldeluck’s Doughnuts Goldeluck’s Doughnuts was established in 2018 by Phillip Kuoch. Since their humble beginnings, they have served more than 350,000 customers and regularly been featured as one of the best doughnut shops in Melbourne by publications such as the Herald Sun and Concrete Playground. With stores in Croydon South and Eastland, Goldeluck’s is notorious for its innovative, award-winning doughnuts which not only taste great but look amazing! Goldeluck’s delicious doughnuts are totally unique, and we’re thrilled to have them join us this year for Carols by Candlelight. This year they will be teaming up with Vision Australia Radio, and together their stall will share the great services that Vision Australia’s audio team provide to the community while Goldeluck’s will be selling their world famous doughnuts with all proceeds going towards the 4x Brighter Appeal.   19 Dec 2018
Two people dressed as Christmas presents

What to bring and what to leave at home

Carols by Candlelight 2018 is almost here! Hopefully you have booked your tickets and started making plans for a night of celebration and song. To help you have the best night possible we’ve put together a short list of what to bring, and what things are best left at home.   What to bring: Your copy or copies of the Carols by Candlelight Songbook, available in the Herald Sun or from our website  Comfortable clothing appropriate to the weather, including hats and sunnies for sun safety in the afternoon, and rain-jackets or ponchos in case of rain! Collapsible prams are also welcome, although these must be cloaked when you arrive Picnics are welcome in appropriate containers (see below), along with your picnic blankets There are ATMs available on site, but bringing some cash is recommended for easier, quicker purchase of beverages and other items Your loudest proudest singing voice and lots of Christmas cheer!   What to leave at home: BYO Alcohol or any glass containers are not permitted at this event! Best to purchase beverages on-site Guns, fireworks, drones and other dangerous items are obvious no-nos! Please don’t bring wax candles; electronic ones will be available for purchase at the event, with all of the proceeds supporting kids who are blind or have low vision Please don’t bring any metal knives, including cheese knives For a better viewing experience for your fellow audience members, please leave behind any portable seating higher than 20cm off the ground, including hard eskies that could be used as a seat. This also goes for tables, tents and sun shelters inside the venue. No pets please; assistance animals only are permitted Pointy umbrellas can be a danger and a viewing obstacle to those behind you, so please leave them at home or try to bring an umbrella without a sharp end. If the weather looks poor, bring raincoats or ponchos We ask that you don’t bring any glow sticks, laser pointers, selfie sticks or professional cameras (phone cameras are okay!)   Please note that bag checks will take place at the gate and prohibited items may be refused or confiscated. We’re looking forward to seeing you all at Carols by Candlelight and we hope you have a fantastic time with your friends and family. Don’t forget to share your photos with the hashtags #carolsbycandlelight and #4xbrighter! 13 Dec 2018
Birdseye image of Nutella doughnuts

The sweetest thing

Goldelucks Doughnuts is proud to be supporting this year’s 4 x Brighter Campaign, helping kids who are blind or have low vision to live the life they choose. This year we will be teaming up with Vision Australia Radio, and together we will have a stall that shares the great services that Vision Australia’s audio team provide to the community whilst we at Goldeluck’s will be selling our world-famous donuts on the night with all profits going towards the campaign.   Doughnut Chief & Creative Director Phillip Kuoch says “Vision Australia provide a wonderful and much needed support to kids who need it, running programs from blind sports, to the Feelix readers that allow children to read like their sighted peers, we’re proud to be doing our bit by being at the event and giving something back, whilst keeping hungry tummies satisfied with our delicious range of unique doughnuts.”   Conrad Browne, Vision Australia Radio and Audio Services Manager, says: “This will be the largest presence Vision Australia Radio will have had at the Carols, it’s a great opportunity for us to reach out to our audience who may be at the event so they can come and say hi, educate others in the services we provide, and spend two big days with the crew at Goldeluck’s that are giving so much. Look out for us at the Christmas Festival!”   Goldeluck's Doughnuts is now delivering doughnut gift boxes to ALL metro Melbourne suburbs and you can order for Christmas delivery now and get $20 off your first order. Just jump to www.goldelucks.com.au and use ‘VisionAustralia’ at checkout. T&C’s apply - see website for details. Offer ends on Christmas Day 11:59PM.   05 Dec 2018
4-yr-old Alfie sits at the playground

A story of hope and determination

“I stared intently into my second baby Alfie’s eyes, desperately trying to remember if it was something I’d seen before. ‘I’m being silly,’ I told myself and picked him up again, his warm face resting up against mine.” “It was a few weeks later I was looking adoringly into those same eyes when I saw it again, his eyes were constantly ‘flickering’. It was no longer a surprise as I was noticing it all the time now.” Diana Fisk, mother to William (6) and Alfie (4) recalls her first few months with Alfie with a heavy heart but, as Alfie prepares for kinder next year, she and husband Rob have a new determination and a positive outlook on the amazing things that Alfie will be able to achieve. After Alfie was diagnosed with Nystagmus – a condition of involuntary (or voluntary, in rare cases) eye movement, that may result in reduced or limited vision – there were tears, but surprisingly, through those tears came something different. “This challenge could shape him in 
a way we never could have imagined.” The sadness and fear started shifting for Diana and her husband Rob as they realised that along with this diagnosis there was the hope of something new. They decided not to think about the limitations and focus on empowering Alfie. “We now understood the challenge that had been dealt to our little boy,” Rob says. They made a decision right there and then that they would take his lead on the life he would live. He would literally be viewing the world in a different way, and they could only imagine what he would be capable of with that unique perspective. To help accomplish that, the family reached out to Vision Australia, firstly to get support and helpful information via its website and more recently to help to prepare Alfie for his first big milestone – going to kinder next year. Alfie’s Vision Australia specialist Sue, will visit Alfie at home regularly and will also go along to the kinder with the family to talk to the staff, explore the school and visit the classroom to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible for Alfie. “He can’t see things in the distance, so Sue and the teaching staff will also ensure he has a front-row seat in the classroom!,” Diana adds. And, the Vision Australia team will be there for Alfie, as he discovers his personal challenges. Support varies, from orientation and mobility training, provision of Feelix library kits, his education and even helping with employment. “It’s amazing to have such expertise available to ensure that Alfie is able to fulfil any dream that he may have growing up,” says Diana as she reaches out to the Australian community. “With your help to support Vision Australia, fears can be replaced by determination, by pride and by hope.”   Alfie with Louise from the Feelix Library  “We now 
understood 
the challenge that had been dealt to our 
little boy.” 29 Nov 2018