$2 million in funding secured for Port Stephens Koala Hospital

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington and Environment Minister Penny Sharpe.

PORT Stephens Koala Hospital is set to receive $2 million in funds from the NSW Government to increase their capacity for providing veterinary care to injured wildlife.

Announcing the funding boost on Wednesday 21 February, Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington said koalas are a “much-loved member of our community, and an iconic part of our region”.

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“This funding is a welcome announcement for our community which cares deeply for koalas and will greatly assist the amazing army of volunteers at Port Stephens Koala Hospital.”

The funds are intended to facilitate an increase in paid staffing for the facility.

With a redevelopment of the facilities on the horizon, the Koala Hospital’s General Manager, Georgie Cairns, said that increasing the organisation’s professional capacity is becoming more critical.

“With the expanded facility it is really important to increase the services and the capacity for care of koalas and other wildlife,” she said.

“This funding has enabled us to employ a practice manager, as well as staff whose work involves gathering leaves for feed (leafing), among others.”

Ms Cairns said the funds will also increase access to specialists such as rehabilitation workers.

The Port Stephens Koala Hospital has grown out of the Hunter Koala Preservation Society, which was founded in 1987 by residents of Anna Bay, and has been an organisation composed largely of volunteers dedicated to preserving the native species.

Volunteers continue to be a vital part of the team, but the provision for greater clinical care by trained professionals is undoubtedly welcome news.

“NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington are two of the greatest protectors of koalas in NSW,” said Ron Land, President of the Port Stephens Koala Hospital.

“This funding package is 100 percent devoted to preserving an iconic Australian endangered species in Port Stephens and without it we could not continue to save the lives of ill, injured, and orphaned koalas at our hospital.”

Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Penny Sharpe, who has worked alongside Ms Washington in this endeavour, said, “This funding is a testament to the strong advocacy of Minister Kate Washington who has been a long time champion of protecting koalas not only in Port Stephens but across the state.

“We are committed to ensuring koalas have a bright future in NSW and this involves supporting a range of conservation actions, including improving habitat, reducing vehicle strike and wildlife care.

“The NSW Government is taking steps to prevent koalas ending up in veterinary care, and this funding helps ensure native wildlife have the best possible outcome when treated and returned to the wild.”

By Lindsay HALL

Premier Chris Minns and Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington with one of Port Stephens’ iconic koalas.

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