Former Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer Dale Potter from Seaspray, is amongst the first people to receive a psychiatric trained assistance dog from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
Mr Potter, who had a distinguished career in Victoria Police and the AFP, qualified for his assistance dog Rosie because of his service on a peacekeeping mission to the Solomon Islands.
He’s now supporting a campaign for assistance dogs to be made available by the State Government to Victoria Police members who have suffered mental health issues as a result of their service.
“Rosie has certainly helped me by reducing my anxiety and stress, particularly in social situations and I would like the Federal Government program to be extended to Victoria,” he said.
“The benefits would exceed the cost in terms of training and supplying dogs and reducing people’s dependence on medication or visits to mental health specialists.”
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester introduced the assistance dog program when he was Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and had the opportunity to meet Mr Potter and Rosie.
“It’s been very successful already with 36 dogs delivered to veterans around Australia and more than 100 in training,” Mr Chester said.
“The feedback from veterans and their families has been incredibly positive with improved mental health outcomes and a real sense of optimism for the future.
“I fully support Dale in his efforts to extend the program to include State Government employees, like police officers, who are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder.
“Mental health issues like PTSD can be resistant to treatment and the assistance dog program has already proven to be successful in improving the quality of life for DVA clients.
“I have received letters from veterans and their families from across Australia explaining how their assistance dog has changed them and made an enormous difference to their mental health.”