26 September 2023

Courts open doors and dogs go back in

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The loveable Labradors the Department of Communities and Justice allows to meet people in courthouses across the State are back at work under control of the Canine Court Companion Program (CCCP).

Announcing their popular return, Attorney General Mark Speakman said a “precautionary paws” had been put on the Program due to the pandemic.

Mr Speakman said the affectionate pooches brought comfort to court users, “who are often experiencing some of the worst days of their lives.”

“These friendly Labradors have been hounding their volunteer handlers to get back to work and make a difference in their communities once again,” Mr Speakman said.

“Their wagging tails, furry faces and wet noses help to ease anxiety and bring smiles to the faces of children, vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime,” he said.

“I am pleased these fabulous dogs are back on duty, helping court users feel more relaxed in what can be a very stressful environment.”

Mr Speakman said Therapy Dog teams attended nominated courthouses up to four days each week.

“They offer support in publicly accessible areas of the courthouse, and may also receive special requests from police or court professionals to assist with people who are especially anxious,” the Attorney General said.

“An evaluation of the program has shown that Therapy Dogs have a calming and uplifting effect on victims of crime, as well as court professionals and volunteers, support networks, and the family and friends of people attending court.”

He said the Labradors were now back in courtrooms in Manly, Burwood, Campbelltown, Sutherland, Gosford, Goulburn, Nowra, Wagga Wagga and Orange ready to support anyone having a “ruff’ time”.

“The ‘lab tested’ program will return as soon as possible to Lismore when the courthouse reopens after being damaged in the recent floods,” Mr Speakman said.

He said each helpful hound in the CCCP received up to two years of intensive training with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

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