Get comfort dogs into Australian courts
Domestic violence and sexual assault are some of the most traumatic experiences imaginable -- and many survivors find the prospect of going to court extremely daunting.
Every day, survivors – including children – are expected to re-live what can be the worst experiences of their lives. It's intimidating, re-traumatising, and isolating.
It doesn't have to be this way. Special "comfort dogs" like Coop (pictured) are being trained to sit with, comfort, and soothe survivors as they give evidence.
In the US and Canada, comfort dogs are allowed in court. Australia isn't there yet -- but there's hope that with a new K9 Support pilot program starting this week, and enough public support, Coop and other comfort dogs like her might make it there.
Can you show your support for getting comfort dogs into Australian courts?
If you have been affected by sexual assault or domestic violence, you can access 24/7 counselling support at 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
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In both Canada and the USA, courts now allow specially trained Labrador dogs to sit with, comfort, and soothe children and other vulnerable survivors as they give evidence.
The program is having a wide range of benefits. Survivors report that through the relationship with their "courthouse dog", the judicial process is less traumatising and they are able to give clearer evidence. Survivors of domestic violence are also more likely to see their case through.