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
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)