Canine Court Companion Program seeks volunteer handlers for NSW Courthouses | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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04 September, 2018

Canine Court Companion Program seeks volunteer handlers for NSW Courthouses

Therapy Dogs Cupid and Ollie sitting outside Manly Courthouse, ready to bring comfort and companionship to court users.

Photo shows: Therapy Dogs Cupid and Ollie sitting outside Manly Courthouse, ready to bring comfort and companionship to court users.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is excited to be working with the NSW Government on the new Canine Court Companion Program, with our Therapy Dogs set to provide comfort and companionship to court users. We are now seeking enthusiastic volunteer Therapy Dog handlers to join the program from this September.

Volunteer handlers will work as a team with a Therapy Dog to help provide support to potentially anxious or distressed court users.

Are you interested in being a Canine Court Program Volunteer? Keep reading to find out more about volunteering, or apply now by any of the following options:

  • Contact the Guide Dogs Centre at Glossodia on (02) 4579 7555
  • Email the Pets As Therapy Program at pat [at] guidedogs.com.au
  • Email Naomi Moore at NaMoore [at] guidedogs.com.au

Who can volunteer?

“We’re looking for volunteers who enjoy socialising with people, have a genuine love of dogs, good dog handling skills and an interest in animal assisted therapy,” - Samantha O’Keeffe, Therapy Dog Coordinator for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

The Canine Court Companion Program has been running with great success at Manly Courthouse in Sydney since July this year, and will roll out to 11 courts across Sydney and Regional NSW by mid 2019. Volunteer Therapy Dog handlers must have the ability to travel to one of the mentioned locations for two mornings per week for 12 months.

  • Metro Areas: Manly, Gosford, Sutherland, Burwood and Campbelltown
  • Regional Areas: Lismore, Taree, Goulburn, Nowra, Orange, Wagga Wagga

Volunteer Commitments

Volunteers will be assisting Guide Dogs NSW/ACT as Therapy Dog handlers. This requires the following commitments:

  • Ability to attend information and training sessions with the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT team
  • Ability to safely transport a labrador Therapy Dog
  • Ability to attend at least two court sessions per week with a Therapy Dog for 12 months. Court sessions will occur between 9am – 10.30am on weekdays. Court sessions will involve visiting people in the courthouse foyers with the Therapy Dog as well as entering safe rooms when requested, particularly for victims of domestic violence.
  • Please note that NSW Courthouses would prefer female handlers for Tuesday and Thursday as these days are generally for domestic violence and AVO cases.
  • While not essential, ideally, volunteers will also host a specially selected Therapy Dog full time in their home.

“This is a fantastic and unique opportunity to be involved in the Canine Court Companion Program and I encourage any interested community members to find out more or apply. Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will provide ongoing training and support to all volunteer handlers,” Samantha added.

How can I apply?

Apply now by contacting us through any of the following options:

  • Contact the Guide Dogs Centre at Glossodia on (02) 4579 7555
  • Email the Pets As Therapy Program at pat [at] guidedogs.com.au
  • Email Naomi Moore at NaMoore [at] guidedogs.com.au