A Taree couple who have stepped up to care for koalas injured during the devastating New South Wales bushfires have received a donation of bandages and medical supplies from Ausgrid.
After fires burned large areas of koala habitat, Paul and Christeen McLeod transformed their Taree home into a marsupial burns unit known as Koalas In Care. They have been helping the local koala population since 1993.
Ausgrid Senior Customer Service Officer, Janette Gorman, has family in Old Bar, a community east of Taree, and was touched by the McLeod’s story.
“They are heroes. They’ve been doing this for many, many years, it’s in their own home and it’s amazing what they are doing, I take my hat off to them,” Ms Gorman said.
“I was so heartbroken to see the devastation in the area I cried, and then seeing photos of the koalas with their bandaged paws and their singed fur is devastating.”
Ms Gorman decided to see how she could help and organised Ausgrid crews to collect bandages, burn blankets and medical supplies from surplus first aid kits.
“I saw the first aid supplies and I thought why don’t we send those up, maybe we can help out. I know Ausgrid is always looking to support local communities,” Ms Gorman said.
Ausgrid’s Sustainability Manager, Craig Wilson, was on hand to deliver the medical supplies to the McLeod’s home.
“So much of our network is in bushfire areas and seeing the animals impacted by these bushfires really strikes a chord for us, we want to be able to do what we can to help and it’s these little things that can have a big impact,” Mr Wilson said.
“There are few things more iconic than our koalas, and we’re happy to help in this small way to assist the McLeods look after them.”
The couple are currently caring for 23 koalas and Ms McLeod said they are expecting more to come in.
“This is catastrophic to us and our koala population. We have never ever seen anything of this size in our area and it’s not over yet,” Ms McLeod said.
“Once the fires are out, it won’t be the end of it because there will be individuals we won’t find and there’ll be individuals out there that may be smoke affected, who will become sick over the next few weeks.”
Ms McLeod thanked Ausgrid for the donation of much needed medical supplies.
“The donations coming in are wonderful and we’ll put them to good use, we’re just thankful that we have so much support out there at the moment,” Ms McLeod said.
“It’s pretty devastating to see these poor koalas burnt and in pain and the distress that they’re suffering, they need to be sedated so we can treat them.
“All of their feet are usually burnt from being on the hot trees, so they all have to be cleaned and applied with burn cream and then we bandage them and given them pain relief and antibiotics, so it’s a big job to do one koala.”
Janette Gorman said she was glad to see her simple idea come to fruition to help the McLeods.
“They’re working so hard to fix the koalas and we’re just trying to help out. I’m proud of Ausgrid for taking this on,” Ms Gorman said.