Gosford Courthouse users will once again benefit from some Labrador love, with the return of the Canine Court Companion Program (CCCP) after a year-long “paws”.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the CCCP for 12 months.
“Therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers make a massive difference to vulnerable witnesses, young children and nervous people who are daunted by the experience of attending a courthouse,” Mr Crouch said.
“After a 12 month interruption to this popular program, I’m glad these placid pooches are back in action at Gosford to bring comfort and a sense of calm.
“Studies show that the use of therapy dogs alleviates symptoms associated with trauma, including stress and anxiety.”
Studies have also shown that animal-assisted intervention provides additional physiological benefits such as lowered heart rate, increased speech and memory functions, and heightened mental clarity.
Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said the CCCP is a partnership initiative led by Victims Services and Court Services, with each therapy dog receiving up to two years of intensive training with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
“The therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers play an important role by easing the stress of attending court for children, vulnerable witnesses and victims of domestic violence”, Mr Speakman said.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT chief executive Dale Cleaver said the program recommenced this week at courthouses in Manly, Gosford, Sutherland, Goulburn, Nowra, Lismore, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Campbelltown and Burwood.
“Our Court Companion dogs and volunteer handlers have been patiently waiting to make a difference in the community once again. We’re excited our beautiful dogs will have their day in court, providing comfort to people in need,” Mr Cleaver said.