Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Assistance Dogs

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (12:49): I rise today to congratulate the Office of Public Prosecutions again for pursuing an amazing program which I spoke to the house about in December last year: Lucy the court program labrador and the amazing assistance she provides to young witnesses, helping them to deal with what at times can be confronting court experiences. As mentioned previously by the Attorney-General in her ministers statement, this program provides vulnerable witnesses giving evidence in court with extra support by having a fur friend by their side, and there is now a new addition to this program in Kiki, a new partner and sister to Lucy. Kiki is a two-year-old black labrador who has now joined her labrador friend Lucy, who was the very first dog in Australia to be allowed on the witness stand as witnesses gave their evidence. Kiki will be based at the Child Witness Service to provide support to children and minors who are required to give evidence. The program in 2017, and since then the dogs have supported nearly 300 witnesses, of which nearly half have been children. Provided by Assistance Dogs Australia, Kiki and Lucy are trained to accompany their young witnesses and lie quietly next to their feet. Both Kiki and Lucy provide calming support and assist in reducing further traumatisation. Having spoken to many young survivors of sex abuse and family violence, I know this program has been pivotal in providing these survivors an experience in court that would otherwise petrify them. Victoria is currently the only state running a full-time program with accredited dogs working in witness rooms and on the witness stand. I applaud the government for providing funding for Kiki, and I ask that this program continues to receive funding in order to continually expand it, as these dogs have literally changed lives.


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