Hunter Water donates $35,000 to Port Stephens Koalas as it works toward hospital and tourism centre at One Mile

HELPING HAND: Port Stephens Koalas hospital co-ordinator Kate King and Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley with one of the patients at the rehabilitation facility. Picture: Sam Norris
HELPING HAND: Port Stephens Koalas hospital co-ordinator Kate King and Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley with one of the patients at the rehabilitation facility. Picture: Sam Norris

Koala rescuers and carers quietly applauded Hunter Water and its $35,000 donation on Thursday.

Quietly, because the koalas were sleeping.

“This donation provides with resources we would otherwise have gone without, or conduct significant fundraising to provide,” hospital coordinator Kate King said.

“It enables me to consistently train people, to care for koalas and to remain on-site to fulfill these functions.”

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The donation is part of Hunter Water’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

“This donation is about celebrating the things our community cares about,” Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley said.

“If we’re helping keep this organisation going long enough to get its hospital up and going it’s worthwhile from our point of view.”

Mr Bentley was last year involved in a joint donation of a rescue vehicle to Port Stephens Koalas, with Port Stephens Council, when he was impressed with the importance of the work.

“I grew up in the UK where we didn’t see such things as koalas but once you get past the cute factor you realise these are sick animals in need of help,” he said.

PSK secretary Ron Land said the donation was crucial.

“Without this funding we would have had to have cut resources,” he said.

“With their recent support to buy our new rescue vehicle and now this donation, Hunter Water is proving to be a true patron of our conservation cause.”

HEALING: One of the koalas in care at the rehabiltation pens.

HEALING: One of the koalas in care at the rehabiltation pens.

PSK president, carer and rescuer Carmel Northwood said the organisation had 84 volunteers on its books and hoped to double this register in time for the hospital opening.

“We’ll need to increase our numbers before it opens to ensure it can all be run smoothly,” she said.

“This donation saves us countless hours of fundraising, we’re lucky if we can raise $1000 a day cooking sausages, so we can instead fulfil our core role – looking after the koalas.” 

A start date for the $3 million hospital will depend on a $3 million application to the state government’s Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund. Lodged in October, volunteers still await news from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

In the meantime, volunteers will expand the number of rehabilitation pens from four to six within a month.

PSK had 11 koalas in its care – between home care and in the rehab pens – as of Thursday.

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