Emma's dream is to get a Guide Dog

Your gift could help children like Emma to be independent and achieve their dream.

Emma with Guide dog.

Emma's dream is to get a Guide Dog

Your gift could help children like Emma to be independent and achieve their dream.

Emma with Guide Dog Donate today

What is the Canine Court Companion Program?

Attending court can be a stressful and confronting event for many people. This program aims to reduce the negative impact of court attendance by supporting victims of crime with a specially selected and trained Therapy Dog and Handler team.

The Canine Court Companion Program (CCCP) is a community based initiative by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in partnership with NSW Government, Department of Justice (Victim Services).

Black and yellow Therapy Dogs sitting outside the front of a court building.

What are the benefits of a Canine Court Companion Therapy Dog?

Interacting with Therapy Dogs has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate, increase speech and memory function, and heighten mental clarity.

Therapy Dogs can also reduce anxiety, offer a pleasant distraction and provide non-judgemental support to people in need. In a courthouse environment, emotions and stress are often at a high and victims of crime are at risk of being re-traumatised and left feeling vulnerable. Interacting with a Therapy Dog may reduce these feelings and improve the person’s wellbeing.

A recent evaluation of the CCCP found that 96% of engagements with CCCP Therapy Dog Teams were positive, along with plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting their presence. The feedback suggests Therapy Dogs have a calming and uplifting effect not only on victims of crime, but also court professionals and volunteers, support networks, and the family and friends of people attending court.

Yellow Therapy Dog looking back at the camera.

What does the program look like?

Our amazing Therapy Dog Teams attend nominated courthouses 4 mornings per week for 1.5 hours between 9am and 12pm. During these sessions, the teams offer support and the opportunity for people and court staff to interact with a specially selected Therapy Dog.

Therapy Dog Teams offer support primarily in publicly accessible areas of the courthouse, including the foyer and safe room. Therapy Dog Teams may also receive special requests from police or court professionals to assist with people who are anxious, or who may benefit from spending time with a Therapy Dog.

Black Therapy Dog sitting side on, head tilted towards the camera and tongue out.

Where is the Canine Court Companion Program available?

Therapy Dog Teams are currently visiting courthouses in:

  • Manly
  • Gosford
  • Sutherland
  • Burwood
  • Campbelltown
  • Orange
  • Lismore
  • Goulburn
  • Nowra
  • Wagga Wagga

The Canine Court Companion Program may be offered at more locations in the future.

Black Therapy Dog accompanies a handler into a court building.

Are Therapy Dogs different from Guide Dogs?

Yes! Although they might look similar—and both Therapy Dogs and Guide Dogs play important roles in assisting the community—they perform these roles in different ways.

Guide Dogs are easily identified by the Guide Dog harness they wear. When a Guide Dog is wearing a harness this means they are working hard to assist their handler in navigating the world. Guide Dogs should never be patted or distracted while they are working. This can create an unsafe environment for both the Guide Dog handler and the Guide Dog.

In contrast, Canine Court Companion Therapy Dogs are there to be patted and to provide comfort and affection for people who would like their company. Canine Court Companion Therapy Dogs wear an orange Therapy Dog vest with the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT logo.

Woman hugging a yellow Therapy Dog.

How can I apply to become a volunteer for the Canine Court Companion Program?

If you would like to find out more about joining our amazing team of volunteers, please download our CCCP Information Booklet.

Please note that all applicants must read the CCCP Information Booklet in its entirety before applying!

To submit your application online please use the CCCP Application Form.

Alternatively, please send your application and CCCP Information Booklet request to Naomi at pat@guidedogs.com.au.

Two Health professionals walking therapy dogs into a building.