Published: 27 February, 2024

Media Release: Therapy Dog Zoey ‘sworn in’ to the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Hobart

27 February 2024

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 1) and (Division 2) (Courts) have expanded the highly successful Court Dog Program to Tasmania through the introduction of ‘Zoey’, a fully accredited and licenced therapy dog, who was ‘sworn in’ today at the Hobart registry.

Families engaged in court proceedings can often experience significant emotional and physical distress that can be exacerbated in legal settings. Therapy dogs like Zoey provide comfort, emotional support and a sense of normalcy to people in during the Court process, assist with facilitating communication, and provide a healthy distraction from trauma responses, as well as a physical source of calming touch.

Zoey’s commencement follows the success of Court Dog ‘Poppy’, who started in the Melbourne registry of the Courts in October 2023, and an earlier Pilot program. A survey during the pilot, and since the expansion of the program in Melbourne in October, found that 100% of those surveyed agreed that:

  • Having a court facility dog in the building was positive;
  • They/their client felt supported by the presence of a court facility dog; and
  • If they/their client attended court again, they would like the ability to request the support of a court facility dog.

At the launch today, the Hon Will Alstergren AO, Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia explained the positive impact that Zoey will have on people who engage with the court system in Hobart.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Zoey as our official Court Therapy Dog for Tasmania, who becomes the second therapy dog to be used in Australian federal courts. It is important that as courts we take every step to help parties with the provision of a safe and supportive court environment.

“Research already gathered and based on our own observations of Poppy and through the Pilot, demonstrates that a professionally trained facility dog provides important support to people experiencing stress and offers a positive and calming distraction to an otherwise overwhelming situation.

“I am very pleased to honorarily ‘swear in’ Zoey today,” Chief Justice Alstergren said.

Hobart-based Judge, Her Honour Judge Taglieri said that Zoey has been professionally trained by Therapy Dogs NSW and will provide comfort and emotional support to parties and children in a range of settings within the Court precinct.

“Where requested, Zoey can attend court hearings and other events such as interviews with children. She is trained to sit calmly alongside a person in the witness box or at a person’s feet. Zoey provides a reassuring presence and a physical source of calming touch, which can assist in opening up communication during an otherwise stressful and emotionally difficult time. 

“The placement of Zoey and the introduction of the Court Dog Program in Tasmania has been supported by the local Family Law Practitioners’ Association and the Women’s Legal Service, who have donated to an honorarium for Zoey’s handler, Liz Banks.

We are extremely thankful for their incredible support of this initiative,” Judge Taglieri said.

Ms Louise Mollross, Family Law Practitioners Association of Tasmania (FLPA)

“The Family Law Practitioners Association of Tasmania (FLPA) together with Women’s Legal Service is delighted to support Zoey, the Tasmanian Court’s Therapy Dog and is proud of its involvement.  FLPA is in no doubt Zoey will be a supportive and soothing presence at the Court for those families facing a family law dispute.  Lawyers are confident Zoey will have a positive impact on people who are navigating the court system.  We wish Zoey all the “woofs” in her new role, we are sure she will be ‘pawsome’.”

Ms Yvette Cehtel, CEO Women’s Legal Service Tasmania

The Women’s Legal Service of Tasmania is very pleased to welcome ‘Zoey’ to the Hobart Registry of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

The Women’s Legal Service of Tasmania has long advocated for a more compassionate and trauma informed approach within our justice system, and we see Zoey as an invaluable (and delightful) addition, who will greatly support all parties, but particularly children, caught up in a family law dispute.

The Women’s Legal Service would like to congratulate Judge Taglieri and Chief Justice Alstergren for championing Zoey’s arrival to Hobart. We look forward to working with Zoey and know that she will have an incredibly positive impact on the wellbeing of people navigating the Family Court system.

More information on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Court Dog Program is available from the Courts’ website at


Denise Healy, Director - Media and Public Affairs
m: 0409 743 695  e: