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Fab Labs get their day in court

Guide Dogs to deliver fur therapy at NSW courts

Publication date: Thursday 26 July 2018

Labradors trained by 'Australia's most trusted charity', Guide Dogs, will be reporting for duty at 10 courts across NSW to provide a little fur therapy for people feeling distressed and anxious by appearing at court.

The Attorney General Mark Speakman recently announced that Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been awarded the contract to expand the Canine Court Companion Program following a merit-based tender process.

The cuddly canines will be on patrol at Burwood, Campbelltown, Gosford, Goulburn, Lismore, Manly, Nowra, Orange, Sutherland and Taree courthouses. 

The rollout of the Canine Court Companion Program follows a successful pilot program at Manly Courthouse involving Delta Society dogs. "The Manly program received unanimous support, with anxious victims and witnesses feeling more relaxed and ready to give evidence after patting the helpful hounds," Mr Speakman said.

"I thank the Delta Society for helping to pioneer therapy dogs in courts in NSW, with its work at Manly Courthouse laying the platform for the program to grow."

The pilot program showed that therapy dogs also have a positive effect on staff, police and lawyers who reported a reduction in their stress levels as well.

Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT said the organisation is excited to be working with the NSW Government on the new program.

"We know that the presence of a dog can help calm people and lower anxiety, and it's wonderful to see our dogs are already doing this at Manly Courthouse. I'm looking forward to seeing our dogs soon bring comfort and companionship to court users at other courts throughout NSW," Dale Cleaver said.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has more than 60 years experience as the leading provider of guide dogs and orientation and mobility services that enable people with sight loss to move around their communities independently. The organisation also has a growing Pets As Therapy program, with dogs helping children and adults struggling with challenges beyond sight loss.

For six consecutive years, Guide Dogs Australia has been named nation's most trusted charity brand in the Reader's Digest Trusted Brands survey.

Above: Guide Dogs' therapy dogs will be on patrol at 10 NSW courthouses as part of the Canine Court Companion Program.