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Meet Baila, our facility dog

This year, we welcomed a special new team member to our organisation – Baila, our Facility Dog to engage and enhance the wellbeing of our clients and our staff.

In March, Baila, a 17 month old Labrador, joined us from Guide Dogs Victoria. Baila is trained with the skills of a therapy dog in addition to specialist skills specific to our organisation.

As a response organisation, we want clients to feel comfortable, safe and supported during appointments and through the introduction of Baila, she provides a point of conversation and helps people to engage in a chat, offers support and friendship to people who may feel isolated or uncomfortable in social situations, and creates a distraction from any negative feelings and reduces stress or anxiety.

During an eight week trial period Baila was integrated within our Sexually Abusive Behaviours Treatment Service (SABTS) team, supporting young people visiting our organisation. She responded to commands and supports any person who is given control of her leash and also identified behavioural cues and subsequently offered comfort to clients and staff within the team.

Throughout the eight week pilot, clients and staff shared positive feedback on the support provided by Baila, with 100% of clients indicating it was either helpful or very helpful having Baila in their session.

Staff have overwhelmingly enjoyed having Baila around the office. She puts a smile on their face, supports staff wellbeing and also helps when having a particularly tough day. There have been many requests from both clients and staff to see Baila – to know how she’s doing and also if they can say hello to her while at the Centre.

Baila has made herself very comfortable at home with her Guardian, as well as around the office. She has thrived with routine and regular naps, and has set an early 4pm finish for herself each day – her focus is firmly on self-care (or more specifically the pending arrival of dinner).

Following the eight week pilot and evaluation, we are pleased that Baila will continue to work at The SAFV Centre, expanding her client support to all services. Working within the Barwon Multidisciplinary Centre, Baila will also attend appointments with clients when meeting with Child Protection and the Sexual Offences and Child-abuse Investigation Team, with the partner agencies expressing enthusiastic support for Baila.

The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land we stand on. We are committed to working toward creating a community where all people indigenous and non-indigenous are safe, connected and empowered to live well. The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre recognises the diverse needs of our community and we ensure our services are inclusive of all children, young people and their families including those who are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who identify as LGBTIQ and persons living with disability. We work collaboratively with people and partner organisations who also support our diverse client group. Interpreter and translator services are available to all our clients upon request.

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