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Forest Lake RSL Sub Branch

The Lake News    February 27, 2024    3 min read   

The Forest Lake & Districts RSL Sub Branch has successfully operated an Assistance Dog Program for the past five years. 

Volunteers run the program to assist veterans suffering from PTSD and other related conditions under the stewardship of club member and Assistant Dog Program Liaison Officer, Trevor Slaughter, assisted by his partner Lin Slaughter and club member Michelle Dunn. 

The volunteers exhibit a high degree of care and attention when interacting with both participants and their assigned dogs.

A person may need a guide, hearing, or assistance dog if such person suffers a disability and needs support to live independently and access public places, public transport, and other venues.

Assistance dogs may be trained to undertake multiple tasks to help their handlers with safe guidance through traffic and obstacles, alerting the handler to specific sounds, and obtaining help from another person by non-barking behaviour such as touching, pawing, and leading the person to their handler requiring assistance.

Assistance dog Bazil with Trevor Slaughter a the Remembrance Day Parade 2023 – Photo: Mal Lynch. 

The program has involved the development of compliance operating procedures to interface into various levels of legislation and the development of a sound business plan. 

In Queensland the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act provides for an appropriate dog and handler to mingle in society provided specific legislated criteria is met. The Public Access Test (PAT) for the assessment of guide, hearing, and assistance dogs to be certified under the Act and the handler formally awarded a Handler Identity Card.

To facilitate the pathway to successful PAT assessment, club member Michelle Dunn is currently well on the way to completing her Certificate IV in Animal Training and Behaviour, focussed on achieving PAT certification for our assistance dogs and their veteran handlers. Trevor said that the club has three more veterans that are in the process of welcoming their new dogs that will be able to reach GHAAD status. Each dog is unique to their handler – assistance dogs are specifically trained to mitigate their handlers’ disabilities.

Trevor emphasised that the vision of the team is to provide a trained assistance dog for both young and older Defence personnel, serving and retired, as an aid to help transition from high stress and combat environments to general society.

Assistance Dog Raine with social member Dominic Mengel on badge sales duty 2023 – Photo: Michelle Dunn

The project is supported by the Defence Community Bank, The Bathurst Jail, Dogs Queensland Inc, and War Animal Memorial RSL Queensland.

Funds are raised via club members through Cash for Containers (Member No C10523538), and badge selling during the lead up to Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

We are indebted to the support from the Forest Lake community for their contribution by way of raffles and donations, which have gone a long way to the success of the program.

SOURCES: Sharron Ford – Forest Lake RSL Club Secretary

The Lake News

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