It is no secret that the koala is an iconic symbol worldwide for Australian wildlife.
Despite greater awareness and an overwhelming understanding of the need to do more for koala conservation, it is unfortunate that we continue to see a dramatic decline in koala numbers across the country.
South East Queensland alone has seen our koala population decrease by 80 per cent over the last 20 years.
In my electorate of Bonner, the koala has been under threat due to the impact of illness, loss of habitat, car strikes, and the devastating recent floods in February.
However, there is a shining beacon of hope for the protection and rehabilitation of Bonner’s local koala population, and that comes from the team at Queensland Koala Society and its president, Angela Christodoulou.
I first updated the House on the Queensland Koala Society in June 2020, after Angela had established this wonderful not-for-profit organisation in Belmont.
Since then, Angela and her team have been working tirelessly to protect, rescue and rehabilitate koalas in our local area.
Angela has personally rescued over 800 koalas, and in one night alone her team recorded 7 koala rescues in South East Queensland.
The Queensland Koala Society do an incredible job, and it is no small thing for me to say that I am in awe of the passion, dedication and determination from Angela and her team to create a better future for koalas.
But the Queensland Koala Society is missing just one major component from a truly comprehensive rehabilitation plan, and that is a Koala Kindy.
Since the foundation of the society, Angela has had a vision for the development of a Koala Kindy.
A Koala Kindy would allow locally rescued koalas, especially joeys, to be rehabilitated, grow and develop in one location before being released back into the wild.
Currently, koalas rescued by the Queensland Koala Society need to be transported to Australia Zoo or to the Moggill Koala Rehabilitation Centre for the final stages of treatment and vet checks before release.
Not only is the transport time-consuming and costly for volunteers, it can also cause further trauma for rescued koalas.
That is why, before the last election, I fought to secure funding for the establishment of a Koala Kindy in Bonner.
I’m here to say that, despite the election results, I am still committed to fighting for the funding of a Koala Kindy.
A Koala Kindy in Bonner would not only prove vital in the fight to save our koala, but would also be an incredible educational tool for local schools and universities.
There is no better way to help create future leaders in wildlife protection than providing hands-on learning opportunities for students.
The Koala Kindy would also be in a prime position to highlight Australia’s commitment to wildlife rehabilitation during the 2032 Olympics, as it would be located opposite a future Olympic venue, the Chandler Arena, where many Olympic events will be held.
The need for a Koala Kindy in Bonner is clear.
I am calling on the new government to honour this commitment and help establish a Koala Kindy at the Queensland Koala Society, not just for the benefit of my community, but for all Australians and for generations to come.