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Goff: Launch of Mobility Dogs initiative


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections

17 July 2008

Speech Notes

Launch of Mobility Dogs initiative

Tena Koutou katoa

It’s a real pleasure today to launch the Mobility Dogs programme.
This initiative involves inmates at Auckland Women’s Corrections Facility giving something back to the community by raising and training your mobility assistance dogs.

We’re starting out small – just two puppies in the first training intake. But it’s a programme that can be expanded here at Auckland Women’s and other prisons around the country.

Training dogs at this prison is a great help to the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust, which aims to assist an increasing number of people with disabilities in the community. There is demand currently for 600 trained dogs.
The concept isn’t a new one.

Overseas prisons run these dog training programmes in the USA and the UK, which has encouraged Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Bradley Mark and Corrections CE Barry Matthews to do the same thing here.

Mobility dogs are trained to aid and assist a human partner 24 hours a day, seven days a week, inside the home and out in the community.
It takes two years to fully train a mobility dog. The trust often finds it difficult to find people to foster dogs for this length of time, as well as committing to the amount of training that they need.

So Minister for Disabilities, Ruth Dyson, and I together with the Department of Corrections thought it would be a great idea to fill this gap by using inmates to train the dogs.

There is a direct benefit to the wider community through helping disabled people carry out day to day tasks such as picking up phones and opening doors.
A fully trained dog can respond to 90 commands. But the initiative also has a rehabilitative component for prisoners.

The programme gives those involved the opportunity to learn new skills and develop a sense of personal pride and the satisfaction of giving something back to the community and repaying their debt to society.

Working with Mobility Dog staff to train the dogs also improves their communication and relationship skills.

It’s great to launch this programme and to see Corrections and inmates working together for the benefit of the community.

Thank you.


ENDS

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