Lismore Court registrar Mel Everson with the therapy dog program volunteers and their canine assistants.
Lismore Court registrar Mel Everson with the therapy dog program volunteers and their canine assistants.

Paw-fect job for dog lovers who want to give back

LISMORE Courthouse is offering the paw-fect job opportunity for dog lovers as it celebrates the first anniversary of the popular Canine Court Companion Program.

Lismore Courthouse is searching for more volunteers to assist with its therapy dog program, which aims to provide comfort to victims, witnesses and their families as they prepare to deal with the stress of appearing in court.

Lismore Court registrar Mel Everson said the program was vital to ensure people felt relaxed in what can sometimes be a stressful environment.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from all stakeholders,” Ms Everson said.

“Our volunteers come here for a couple of hours.

“They say good morning to the staff then wander upstairs and chat to people in the waiting room.

“They don’t have to have their own dog and there is training provided.”

Dog handler and volunteer Erika Lindeman said she was surprised how rewarding volunteering at the courthouse had been since she started with her dog Sebastian.

“There’s not a Friday that goes by that we don’t walk out of this courthouse with a lighter step knowing we’ve done some good in there,” Ms Lindeman said.

Ms Lindeman said anyone who had a passion for ensuring people felt safe and listened to would be the perfect addition to the team.

“It takes enjoying talking to people, liking dogs of course and wanting to help and having empathy towards people,” she said.

“Some of the people have lots of problems and they can feel it when you’re a sympathetic person and can distract them a little by having a chat.”

The program operates at Lismore Courthouse 9-11.30am all days apart from Thursday.

The new recruits will be required to adopt one of Guide Dogs’ empathetic Labradors and will receive plenty of training before visiting the courthouse for the first time.

For more information, contact Guide Dog Centre on (02) 4579 7555 or visit www.guidedogs.com.au/guide-dogs/canine-court-companion-program



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