The Office of Public Prosecutions

The first Justice Facility Dog Program in Australia started in 2017 at the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) with “Coop”. Starting at two half days a week, the program continued to expand and in 2019, it commenced full time with the placement of Lucy from Assistance Dogs of Australia. Lucy completed her advanced training as part of the Pups in Prison program. The OPP is proud of our link with the South Qld Correctional Facility and believes that prisoners training dogs to support victims of crime is a tangible example of restorative justice at work in the community.

Lucy provides support to adult and child victims and witness in multiple ways;

  • attending a case conference with the prosecution team
  • attending court hearings (committal, trial, special hearing, plea, sentence and appeal)
  • assessment with an intermediary
  • court tours
  • waiting room support

Lucy ‘hands’ out her business card when she first meets people.

Whilst the majority of victims and witnesses that Lucy supports choose to give evidence from a separate room via video link, Lucy also provides support from within the courtroom and on the witness stand.

Lucy is able to work at both metropolitan and regional courts across Victoria.

The use of a justice facility dog in a court hearing is always subject to approval from the magistrate or judge. With an approval rate of approx. 98%, the courts have clearly shown their acceptance of the program and the important role that a justice facility dog can play in providing support to victims of crime.

Lucy is also able to work within other areas of the justice system on request and pending her availability eg police interviews, Drugs Court.

Lucy can engage with people in many ways to help them during their day. Some of what she does can be seen in this video.

The OPP is pleased to sponsor the formation of Justice Facility Dogs Australia.

For more information about the OPP’s Justice Facility Dog Program, contact the Program Manager Julie Morrison (julie.morrison@opp.vic.gov.au)

Follow Lucy on Instagram #courtdoglucy

Child Witness Services

The overwhelming demand for Lucy in 2019-2020 resulted in a number of booking requests unable to be met. The OPP was pleased to help facilitate the placement of “Kiki” from Assistance Dogs of Australia to Child Witness Services in late 2020 to provide support to children who are required to give evidence in court hearings.

Kiki meeting her young person for the first time.

Kiki provides support to child witnesses by;

  • attending a case conference with the prosecution team
  • attending court hearings (contested hearing, special hearing, plea, sentence and appeal) when the child gives evidence via video link to the courtroom
  • assessment with an intermediary
  • waiting room support

Pending availability, Kiki is able to provide support in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

For more information on the Child Witness Services’ Justice Facility Dog Program, contact the Program Manager Elizabeth Bradley (Elizabeth.bradley@justice.vic.gov.au)