Our Work

Blue Ribbon Foundation Assistance Dogs Program

The Police Assistance Dog (PAD) program has been introduced by the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation to provide highly trained  Dogs to former or Veteran members of Victoria Police who need physical and emotional support for a range of emotional conditions and primarily Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The first phase of the Blue Ribbon Foundation PAD program is helping to make the Assistance Dogs available to Veteran Police Members.

The PAD Program will be ongoing and additional to our work in honouring police members and supporting hospitals. The program is a partnership between the Foundation, Assistance Dogs Australia and Fighting PTSD Vicpol, which is led by Sergeant Glenn Holland.


Years of police duty can take a heavy toll

Policing is a unique profession; rewarding, challenging, and satisfying. But it can also be dangerous, with police members required to manage complex situations from emergencies,  crime scenes, major disasters, traffic collisions, search and rescue and much more. Every time a police officer goes on duty, they never know what they might encounter during their shift but they know that at any moment, they may be called upon to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public. Every incident attended is stressful and each can slowly or suddenly lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Police are often described as the few, protecting the many; people who do a dangerous and challenging job but at the end of their shift, most are needed at home with their families.

Why Police Veterans

Initially we are focusing on retired (Veteran) members of Police. A number have been medically retired due to various levels of mental impairment including PTSD, which is where there is the most need for therapy and care.
Assistance Dogs can help guide those living with trauma back to a sense of safety, helping to improve interpersonal connections, encourage engagement in the community and regain areas of functioning that may have been diminished by their trauma. By acting more urgently in this direction we know the program will save lives. However, our program is designed to work alongside other police spaces when and if required and our existing partnership with Victoria Police will enable us to review new areas of support on a regular basis.

What is PTSD

All of us will experience some form of trauma during our lives, and most of us will recover without long-term difficulty. Some people who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events, or experience a particularly traumatic incident, may go on to develop PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

We respond to threat to help us survive, toget away, fight the danger or slow down until it has passed. This is known as Flight/Fight/Freeze response. Intense or repeated trauma can lead to this response becoming extremely sensitive. When this happens almost any environment becomes threatening, and anything relating to the traumatic incident provokes an activation of the Flight/Fight/ Freeze response. This contributes to many of the symptoms we associate with PTSD:

• Re-experiencing trauma when reminded of it
• Avoiding reminders of trauma
• Low mood or depression
• Severe anxiety
• Reactivity, irritability, and agitation
• Disturbed sleep and nightmares
• Dissociation
• Inability to cope with life

Significant psychological, social, and functional difficulties may come out of this. PTSD is particularly prevalent in former police personnel who often endure exposure to traumatic incidents in the course of their duties.


How you can support this program


If you would like to help us in supplying Police Assistance Dogs (PADS) to our Veteran Police who need them, please make a tax deductible donation online your donation will be used to fund our PADS program.


Safe and peaceful communities are good for business and we welcome businesses at all levels who may like to become a sponsor or partner in this program. There can be no greater gift than to help make the lives of those who have served us with dedication and distinction as members of our Police Force. To find out more about sponsorship contact the Community Engagement Manager at the Blue Ribbon Foundation on 03 9555 8000.


Could your workplace organise a special activity or giving day to help us train more puppies in becoming fully-grown Police Assistance Dogs? Think of an idea and then register your event with our Community Engagement Manager at the Blue Ribbon Foundation on 03 9555 8000.