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Canine court companions to relieve victim trauma

A solicitor for public prosecutions says victims often feel irreverent to the legal system which causes unnecessary stress and anxiety.

The office of public prosecutions, in partnership with RMIT’s centre for innovative justice on victim experiences, have found dogs could alleviate victim trauma when giving evidence.

Solicitor John Cain told 3AW Mornings victims who used the dog support program showed immediate signs of relaxation.

“We need to make the process easier for them to avoid re-traumatising them,” says Mr Cain.

“Victims felt they were brutalised by the legal system.”

Susie, the chocolate lab, is one of two dogs involved in the program and joined Neil in the studio this morning.

“Victims can pat the dog or play with the dog and immediately they are more relaxed,” says Mr Cain.

“It provides a bit of comfort and distraction.

“We’ve found they give evidence faster, more succinctly and more clearly.

“It means trials run faster.”

The dogs go through two years of training to ensure they are well mannered in the court room.

“We still have more work to do and so do the courts, but it’s a good start.”

Click PLAY to hear all the details on the dog support program