Whenever a disaster occurs, we see the same scenario played out when it comes to our wildlife.
During the recent fires, rescuers and carers, vets and darters, all stood by, waiting to be called in by the department. People with years, decades of experience and many with fireground training.
As the world was watching, an army of experienced and professional volunteers were ready to be mobilised, but they were not utilised, and as a result, animals that could have been saved were left to die.
It’s time for a new authority
Something needs to be done. Everyone needs to be brought in together – all of the rescuers, carers and shelter operators, the rehabilitators and releasers – to establish a new authority. One that recognises and values their work. One that recognises and values their wealth of knowledge and experience. One that also attempts to mend any splits in the community, because the animals deserve better.
How will it happen?
I’ve been working alongside experienced wildlife rescuers and carers on a proposal for the government which outlines a centralised response to wildlife management in Victoria.
This plan serves as a response to recent fire management but also seeks to benefit ongoing prevention and support for Victorian wildlife and their carers more broadly. The new model depicts a professional volunteer authority, similar to the highly successful SES and CFA frameworks.
We are calling for a model that is more accessible to the Victorian public, as well as funding for adequate mental health support and training for our dedicated volunteers.
In June, I introduced a Private Member’s Bill to establish a new authority named Wildlife Rescue Victoria. My Bill has resulted in the Victorian Government committing to fixing Victoria’s broken wildlife response, and consultation with the community will begin soon! This is the first step of a long process ahead, and I will ensure that our native animals and the volunteers who dedicate so much time to care for them have their voices heard and lead the change.
Just as volunteers from the SES and CFA are trusted to get the job done, it’s time to put that same trust in our wildlife responders.