Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference

A new association has been formed to encourage ongoing education of wildlife rehabilitators: Dianne Hunter has announced the creation the Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference Inc (AWRC), which has the sole aim of facilitating future national wildlife rehabilitation conferences. The national conferences have encouraged enhanced standards of wildlife care and brought wildlife carers together in a collaborative and cooperative atmosphere since 2003.

Dianne Hunter, former chair of the Western Australian Conference Committee, and now chair of the AWRC, said that since the original conference in 2003, members of each organising committee have advised organisers of the following conference.  “It is well known that each conference relies on cooperation between individuals from different care groups, but it is less well known that there has been this degree of interstate collaboration since the beginning”.

Greg Gordon, who together with Peter Myroniuk was instrumental in creating the very first conference in Victoria agrees:  “From the outset, Peter and I always had a national collaboration in mind” he said.

“As the first conference, we had no models to rely on, but my role with the University of Victoria helped.  We were pleased to be able to attract speakers from all over Australia, and when Steve Amesbury from Australian Fauna Care offered use of their website as our official conference site, we were happy to agree.”

The core of the AWRC has been around for several years, but in recent times there has been a growing recognition of the need to formalise the situation.  Dianne Hunter said that from 2005 onwards, each organising committee has contributed money to a fund, which acts as a loan for the next organising committee. This is used as “seed funding” to get each conference off the ground. She said that providing a greater level of management and accountability for these funds was a major factor in the creation of this association.

“The core of our membership is made up of committee members from the conferences that have contributed to this fund, as well as a few individuals who have made significant contributions to previous conferences”, Dianne said.

Steve Amesbury, MC of the NSW and WA conferences said that he feels honoured to be a part of this committee, and has found it a refreshingly positive experience. “When I first became aware of what Greg Gordon and Peter Myroniuk were trying to achieve in 2002/2003, I applauded their efforts, but was unsure how they would ever get it off the ground,” he said

“While there was some degree of cooperation between wildlife groups at that time, there was little interaction between wildlife carers in different states. The wildlife conferences changed all that, and full credit must go to the pioneers in Victoria”.

Kim Alexander, Secretary / Treasurer of the AWRC was originally chair of  the Queensland Conference Committee.  Kim adds that the formation of the state wildlife rehabilitation councils, which has improved cooperation between carers and been instrumental in the development of standards of care in some states, can be traced back to the national conferences.

“The concept of state councils was aired at the conferences, and it was often people associated with the state conferences who were at the core of the state bodies which emerged”, she said.

She added that the AWRC was lucky to have Dianne Hunter on board. With her many years experience as an events organiser, Dianne has been an invaluable asset and obvious choice for chairperson.

A key objective of the AWRC is the provision of ongoing help and advice to future organisers.  Steve Amesbury said  that each organising committee has had to start almost from scratch, and the logistics of organising everything from the venues, speakers, advertising through to attracting sponsors and managing the running of the conference was a daunting task.

“While there has been an informal network of people providing help and advice, we are taking this to a new level, creating documentation and taking full control of the website, to make the handovers as painless and seamless as possible,” he said

Kim added:  It’s not our intention to homogenise the Conferences. The different ideas and approaches from each new conference organising committee have brought a desirable diversity and individuality to each of the Conferences.

As one of the few wildlife rehabilitation bodies with a truly national representation, it was suggested that the AWRC could form the basis of a national representative body, which was first mooted at the Werribee conference in 2003.  However Dianne Hunter is quick to dispel that idea:

“This group of people has come together with the express notion of supporting the continuation of successful national . We are not associated with any other body or wildlife group and we want to keep it that way, so that the funds and efforts of this group are clearly delineated. While some of our members are active in various state bodies, and no doubt have their own ideas and opinions about the concept of a national body, the AWRC’s charter is set.”

“We are committed to the continuation of successful conferences, enhancing the standards of wildlife care and bringing wildlife carers closer through collaboration and cooperation. Our aim is to do that, and to do it well” she said.

The AWRC has taken responsibility for the conference website and has launched a new look AWRC website at

(Updated February 2011)



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