Nowra's court support dog program

Two happy and helpful hounds.
Two happy and helpful hounds.

A team of Labradors are being trained to make the Nowra Court House a happier place for victims of crime.

The support dogs will also assist other vulnerable people like children.

The dogs are being trained after a successful pilot project was run in the Manly Court House.

Local courts in Burwood, Campbelltown, Gosford, Goulburn, Lismore, Manly, Orange, Sutherland, Taree and Nowra will get the support dogs.

No exact date for when the dogs arrive in Nowra is set but it will be early next year and Gosford Court is the next in line.

Volunteers dog handlers, once they arrive in the Nowra region, will also be needed.

State member for the South Coast, Shelley Hancock, began lobbying to roll the program out on the South Coast earlier this year.

She was thrilled they were now one step closer with the award of the contract to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

“Therapy dogs will start work at Nowra Courthouse by early next year and will provide comfort to anyone who is feeling anxious,” Mrs Hancock said.

“Lab tests indicate the dogs will be off the charts in terms of cuteness, sensitivity and cuddle-ability.

“Dedicated volunteers will visit the courthouse with their dogs on one or more mornings a week and be available in foyers, waiting rooms, safe areas and witness rooms.

“As a government we should be doing all we can to support victims of crime. I am proud to have secured this great initiative to provide some comfort to victims and witnesses on the South Coast.”

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the roll out of the Canine Court Companion Program followed the successful pilot program at Manly Courthouse involving Delta Society dogs.

“The Manly program received unanimous support, with victims and witnesses feeling significantly more relaxed and ready to give evidence after patting and spending quality time with the friendly hounds,” Mr Speakman said.

CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Dale Cleaver, said the organisation has a growing Pets As Therapy program, with dogs providing companionship and physical comfort to children and adults struggling with challenges beyond sight loss.

“Our dogs are already supporting court users in Manly and I’m looking forward to seeing our dogs soon bring comfort and companionship to court users at other courts throughout NSW,” he said.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is best known as the leading provider of Guide Dogs, orientation and mobility services that enable people with sight loss to move around their communities independently.

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