What is the ACT Court Canine Support Program?
Easing the stress of court for victims of crime.
The ACT Court Canine Support Program is an initiative by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT run in partnership with the ACT Courts and Tribunal. The Program is designed to support victims of crime and ease the stress of attending court.
In the Program, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT team members and our amazing Program volunteers focus on Children’s Court and the Remote Witness Unit, but also walk through the courthouse with carefully selected Therapy Dogs. Throughout their time in the courthouse, the Therapy Dog and Handler team will pause to spend time with anyone who may feel anxious or need comfort. Pats are very much encouraged; it’s all part of the process of supporting people to feel more comfortable in court!
What are the benefits?
A sense of calm and comfort.
Interacting with Therapy Dogs is scientifically proven to lower heart rate, increase speech and memory function, and heighten mental clarity.
A recent evaluation of a similar program in NSW Courts, found that ‘96% of engagements with CCCP Therapy Dog Teams were positive’. Plus, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting their presence. Therapy Dogs have a calming and uplifting effect on victims of crime, but also on court professionals and volunteers, support networks, and the family and friends of people attending court.
Where is the program available?
Supporting attendees in ACT Magistrates Court.
The ACT Court Canine Support Program is currently available in ACT Magistrates Court.
Volunteer to support the Program
Join the program team.
If you’d like to find out more about joining our amazing team of volunteers, please contact Guide Dogs Canberra office on 02 6147 3560
To submit your application online please use the ACT Court Canine Support Program Volunteer Application form
Alternatively, please send your application Nikki at firstname.lastname@example.org
About our Therapy Dogs
A special role of support.
Although Guide Dogs and Therapy Dogs look similar—and both play important roles in supporting the community—they perform their roles in different ways.
Guide Dogs are easily identified by the special Guide Dog harness they wear. When a Guide Dog is wearing a harness, they are ‘on the job’: supporting their handle to navigate the world. Although it can be tough, it’s important not to pat or distract a working Guide Dog. This can create an unsafe environment for both the Guide Dog handler and the Guide Dog.
In contrast, being patted is part of the job description for ACT Court Canine Support Therapy Dogs! Their role is to provide comfort and affection for people who would like their company. ACT Court Canine Support Therapy Dogs wear an orange Therapy Dog vest with the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT logo.