AUSTRALIA ~ PRISON DOGS GRADUATE


Media Statements
Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Sport
The Honourable Judy Spence MP
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First 'Pups in Prison' graduates to help disabled:
Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence with assistance dog Taylor, along with Darling Downs Correctional Centre General Manager Andrew Pike, centre, and Assistance Dogs Australia Chief Executive Officer Richard Lord

Spence Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence with assistance dog Taylor, along with Darling Downs Correctional Centre General Manager Andrew Pike, centre, and Assistance Dogs Australia Chief Executive Officer Richard LordThe first assistance dogs to participate in Queensland's innovative Pups in Prison program have today graduated from their 14 month training course at Darling Downs Correctional Centre.

Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence presented black Labradors siblings Toomba and Truman and Golden Retrievers siblings Topaz and Taylor, to Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA) Chief Executive Officer Richard Lord, during a ceremony on the Speaker's Green at Parliament House.

Ms Spence said: "This program is a Queensland-first that brings puppies and prisoners together as part of a rehabilitation partnership between Assistance Dogs Australia and Queensland Corrective Services.

"These dogs have undergone 14 months basic training and socialising with prisoners at the Darling Downs Correctional Centre (DDCC) near Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.

"They will now be returned to ADA for a six month intensive training program before being matched to people with physical disabilities to enhance the person's quality of life and improve their level of independence.

"The dogs will eventually be able to turn light switches off and on, press pedestrian crossing buttons and pick up and retrieve items - tasks which people in wheelchairs find extremely difficult.

"This government is pleased to be part of an initiative that is making a real difference to lives of Queenslanders in need."

Ms Spence said the partnership with Assistance Dogs Australia is a prime example of how Queensland Corrective Services works with community organisations to provide prisoners with new opportunities for rehabilitation while giving something worthwhile back to the community.

Assistance dog showing obedience at the graduation day"Pups in Prison has provided prisoners with a positive experience, establishing new levels of responsibility, self-esteem and communication skills, while also developing patience, compassion and cooperation," Ms Spence said.

"Assistance Dogs Australia does a fantastic job in their work training companion dogs for people with disabilities and it is a pleasure to be involved in the important role they play in our community."

Assistance Dogs Australia CEO Richard Lord said the Pups in Prison program has been a huge success.

"We are very excited to see the inaugural graduation from the Darling Downs Correctional Centre," Mr Lord said.

"The pups look fantastic and are very well trained. The program has united the officers, prisoners and community volunteers whose combined efforts to train and socialise the pups has been outstanding.

"These remarkable dogs will change for the better the lives of young people who have suffered from developmental disabilities or quadriplegia as a result of traumatic accidents.

"We look forward to continuing the program with Queensland Corrective Services," Mr Lord said.

Ms Spence said the program has also provided significant learning opportunities for staff.

"Staff at Darling Downs and the volunteer obedience trainers have done a great job in developing the program," Ms Spence said.
Assistance dogs demonstrate their training "I know they are now looking forward to the arrival of the second group of puppies, due to start training at the centre in July."

Assistance dog showing obedience at the graduation day

Assistance dogs demonstrate their training

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