Whenever a disaster occurs, we have seen 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 was time for a new authority
Something needed to be done. Everyone needed 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?
Andy Meddick MP spent time working alongside experienced wildlife rescuers and carers on a proposal for the government which outlines a centralised response to wildlife management in Victoria.
The 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 called 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 2020, we introduced a Private Member’s Bill to establish a new authority named Wildlife Rescue Victoria. With support from the government, we moved into a community consultation and roundtable process to shape and form a new and improved emergency service response for our precious native animals. The outcome includes the development of a Wildlife Rescue Victoria committee with Liaison Officer roles. Wildlife rescue is set to be recognised as a legitimate emergency service.
Wildlife is now considered a central part of the government’s emergency bushfire response and we have confidence in our dedicated team for animals.