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K-9 Support program recognised in Australian Parliament.

Thursday 5 May 2016

Local dog trainer and veterinary nurse Tessa Stow has been recognised in Parliament for her efforts establishing a pilot program to assist victims of family violence in Benalla and Wangaratta.

Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan commended the K-9 Support program which uses trained dogs to support survivors of family violence and in particular, children as they navigate the court system.

Ms Ryan said the vulnerability and safety of those attending court to give evidence was one significant focus of the recent Royal Commission into Family Violence and a program such as K-9 Support would help address the challenges survivors face.

"Participating in courtroom proceedings can be a very stressful experience, particularly for younger children," Ms Ryan said.

"The Royal Commission’s report references a 2010 survey of 25 children and young people who attended the Children's Court. Every one of those children described it as a scary experience.

"The presence of an appropriately bred and trained canine can provide a source of comfort and stability, significantly reducing the anxiety this causes."
Ms Ryan said the program had been successfully trailed in the United States through the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Arizona.

"The program pairs specially trained dogs with victims of violent crime to accompany them through the justice system with the aim of helping victims remain calm and better equipped to give evidence.

"Is has been very effective in the U.S. in supporting children who are faced with the traumatic experience of testifying in court and has led to increases in conviction rates of perpetrators.

"There’s a great opportunity for the government to investigate this program further and consider its implementation as part of its response to family violence."

Steph Ryan
Member for Euroa
Deputy Leader of The Nationals

Elisabeth Murdoch College

Dear Tessa,

I would like to thank you and the team at K9 Support for all of the great work you have done with our school therapy dog, Sonny. I also wanted to thank-you for the handler training course, I have found it invaluable with my work back at school with Sonny, and would recommend this to anyone looking to develop an animal therapy program at their organisation.

Sonny has quickly become the most popular staff member here at Elisabeth Murdoch College (with both staff and students, and he even has his own Instagram page, sonny_emc!) He has been doing some fantastic work with many of our students with ASD, high-level anxiety and school refusal. I have no hesitation in recommending your services, with the benefits of animal therapy able to be clearly seen back here at EMC.

Thanks again,

Warren Bull
Head of Student Support Services
Elisabeth Murdoch College


I still can't thank you enough


We had an interesting first day ..... at lunch time due to a very dangerous situation the school was put in lockdown for 1.5 hours while police and staff managed a situation which meant we had to stay indoors, it also happened right outside my office so Cadbury could hear it all! He coped fine. Interestingly, that afternoon we had a whole of staff debrief about the incident and he sat on the floor with several staff members during the debrief, they were patting him etc.......lovely to see.

Then another student, who we have all been really worried about and who I haven't any success in engaging with, came to see me to meet Cadbury as she loves dogs and then agreed to see me again if we could take Cadbury for a walk together! Unbelievable.

Cadbury has done two days this week, which I think we will continue for this term, with the aim of a maximum of 3 days next year :) I still can't thank you and Tessa enough :) Kylee

Kylee J. Bannon
Teacher, Tasmania