Mobile wildlife hospital receives bushfire recovery grant

Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital has been awarded $401,500 for the construction of accommodation and training facilities for emergency wildlife veterinarians, vet nurses, volunteers and carers.

“Wildlife vets, nurses and carers are critical to the conservation and care of Australian wildlife,” Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital (BBWH) Founder and CEO Stephen Van Mil said.

“They are essentially on call 24/7, putting enormous strain on them and their families. We desperately need infrastructure enabling these care professionals to be accommodated close to the native animals in their care.”

The Wildlife Vet Stay and Training Centre will use local businesses and contractors to plan, construct and fit out two fixed and connected ‘Tiny Houses’ and a facility for education programs. It will also support life education programs for indigenous youth dealing with trauma and loss by facilitating healing and learning through connection with Australian wildlife.

The grant funding is part of the $4.5 billion commitment from the NSW and Commonwealth governments to support economic, social, built and natural environment recovery from the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.

Local Nationals Member of the Legislative Council Ben Franklin said this investment from the State and Commonwealth Government’s would support the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital to continue offering crucial and life-saving care.

“Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital has treated almost 1000 wildlife patients in ten months, working with wildlife carers and vets across the NSW North Coast and hinterland,” Franklin said.

“Infrastructure of this kind will help the Wildlife Hospital meet the growing demand for dedicated wildlife treatment, provide an essential, practical service for vets, volunteers and carers, and draw people to the region as a hub for education and skills development in wildlife conservation.”

Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital is based in the Northern Rivers, an Australian biodiversity hotspot. The not-for-profit organisation’s footprint is expanding as it continues to relieve the burden of providing wildlife care from general practice veterinarians.

“We’re honoured and grateful that the NSW and Australian governments have seen the merit in our project. Our vision is that this will help develop a new narrative for our region as a hub for wildlife conservation, with resources and facilities collaboratively created by the community, business, veterinary professionals and the NSW and Australian governments,” Van Mil said.

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