The koala population is expected to benefit from a Hunter Water grant of $105,000 over three years following a horrendous couple of months including loss of habitat and life through a series of fires and a summer heatwave.
The contribution to the volunteer Port Stephens Koalas organisation was announced on Monday by Port Stephens Duty MLC, Catherine Cusack, and Liberal candidate Jaimie Abbott.
Ms Cusack said the money would support the not-for-profit organisation’s ongoing running costs and ensure its important work at the One Mile sanctuary could continue while plans for a new koala hospital progress.
“The funding from Hunter Water will assist the volunteers in their efforts to preserve the local koala population by nursing sick and injured koalas back to health,” Ms Cusack said.
“This government is a strong supporter of plans to build a koala hospital, committing $3 million to the project in May last year.
“This facility is desperately needed and it will be crucial to ensure the protection and ongoing conservation of the koala population.”
Ms Abbott said she was pleased to see the government’s ongoing assistance to help the Port’s treasured national icon.
“This latest grant will ensure the volunteers can continue their vital work over the coming years in providing round-the-clock care to sick and injured koalas throughout the region, until the full hospital is up-and-running,” Ms Abbott said.
“The funding comes in addition to Hunter Water’s previous assistance to Port Stephens Koalas, which included contributing towards the costs of a new ‘ambulance’ vehicle in 2017 and a $35,000 donation in early 2018 to support a full-time koala hospital coordinator at its rehabilitation facility.”
The funding announcement also comes after Hunter Water donated $10,000 to Port Stephens Koalas at the end of January to purchase medical supplies to treat animals injured in the Mambo Wetlands bushfire.
Days after the December bushfire, more than 14 koalas had been admitted to the Port Stephens Koala sanctuary for treatment.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington has joined residents in Salamander Bay on January 31 to acknowledge and thank Hunter Water for the donation.
“The bushfire had a devastating impact on our local koala population, and our volunteer koala carers worked around the clock to save and heal as many animals as possible,” Ms Washington said.
“There’s no doubt that Hunter Water’s sizable donation helped save our koalas at a time when they face numerous threats to their ongoing survival.”