Toowoomba woman Nadine Wright is hoping a therapy dog can help soothe traumatised foster children while they give evidence to police or the court.

Mrs Wright is the founder of Hope for Our Children which works to improve the lives of foster children and their carers. The puppy, a four month old Labradoodle named Hope, is currently living with a guardian family who are helping train her along with a professional therapy dog trainer. Mrs Wright says that the cuddle from a dog can help to calm a child. “Hope will be trained to recognise when a child’s level of cortisol, a hormone elevated in response to stress, rises and she will use pressure and release responses to calm the child,” she said.

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP urged the community to get behind Hope for Our Children’s goal of raising the $25,000 it will cost to fully train Hope over the course of two years. “Nadine is passionate and works tirelessly to help those most vulnerable in our community,” Mr Janetzki said. “Hope will be comforting children in highly stressful situations while they recall details of their abuse to police or the courts, or while strangers are debating their fate in the Family Court.”

Mrs Wright said she also wanted to make Hope available for foster children during their scheduled visits with their biological parents in the Toowoomba Children’s Contact Centre. “Scheduled visits at the contact centre can be very frightening and traumatising for children where they are, in some situations, forced to have contact with a parent who has been an abuser. A therapy dog would be able to comfort them and make them feel like they are not alone,” she said.

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