Tails wag on Workplace Welfare Dogs Program trial

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester has announced the commencement of the Workplace Welfare Dogs Program, which is currently on trial at RAAF Bases East Sale, Williamtown and Pearce.

CAPTION: Squadron Leader Cindy Chawner, Darren Chester, Flight Lieutenant Sharne Kinleyside and Air Force Chaplain Col Barwise [dog not named, unfortunately], at Parliament House, Canberra. Photo supplied.

As part of the program, which will be initially trialled for six months, the bases will host three dogs that will accompany Defence-chaplain handlers on pastoral care rounds.

Mr Chester said the intent of the trial was to prove the mateship value of the dogs working with chaplains to build morale and improve the wellbeing of Defence members.

“The Workplace Welfare Dogs Program aims to raise morale and general awareness of talking with someone, which is one of the key factors of overall health and wellbeing,” Mr Chester said.

“Defence chaplains provide support to members of the Defence Force and their families on a range of life issues including relationships and deployments, and teaming them up with our tail-wagging, four-legged friends will make a great fit.

“These dogs will create a warmth and member-centred environment that will reach out to many of our Defence members who may need an ice-breaker to feel comfortable to speak about their well-being.”

Following an agreement signed by the Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies and Young Diggers’ Dog Squad (YDDS) Chairman of Directors on 10 August 2018, YDDS will train and provide three rescued dogs and their associated equipment to Air Force.

YDDS is a charitable organisation set up and run by ex-serving military members providing a variety of support services and programs to help serving and ex-serving personnel of the Australian Defence Force and their families.

The Workplace Welfare Dogs Program will be evaluated following the completion of the trial period and, if successful, a wider program will be considered by Defence.

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Brian Hartigan

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