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 I would like to congratulate the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for providing fully trained psychiatric assistance dogs for eligible veterans right across Australia. As we know, mental health issues are often difficult to treat and resistant to treatment. The evidence is growing that these specially trained dogs can play an important role in our veterans’ community.

They have successfully placed 36 dogs now around the nation, with another 130 in training. As the former minister I have received many positive letters from grateful veterans and their families, talking about how their dog has made a huge difference to their family life. This week I had the enormous pleasure to meet Rosie, a golden retriever, and her veteran friend Dale in a little coastal town called Seaspray in my electorate. It was quite remarkable to see the way Rosie and Dale are working together for the benefit of his mental health. After just a few months Dale is already reporting less anxiety and more confidence in social settings, and less need for medication. He credits Rosie for changing his life. He’s now working to try to make sure that access to psychiatric trained assistance dogs is extended to first responders here in Victoria, particularly to Victoria Police.

I want to thank the dog-training organisations—the volunteers and professionals—who have done this enormous work. They’re working in partnership with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and our veterans’ community. Your work is really making a difference on the ground. Your work is saving lives and it’s changing lives. I thank the House.

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