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At Delungra Public School, caring for our local koala population has been part of our culture for a long time. When Caring for Koalas and Effective Learning collide – our students are equipped with a wholistic worldview to be proactive in life, giving them a sense of the potential they have to effect change in the world.
Koalas love to visit Delungra Public School. School staff, students and P&C members all work together to nurture the local population of furry visitors who frequently hang out in the trees around the school. During the severe drought conditions of 2017-2020, it was evident that the koalas were under increasing stress. More and more koalas were crossing the school grounds showing signs of injury, illness or dehydration. Teachers and students alike gained valuable insight during this time into koala habitat and the need for watering points for koalas. With the help of WIRES volunteers, a permanent watering station was installed in the school, which now enables the koalas to access water without having to leave the safety of the tree. Various other watering points are maintained by students.
Meet our Koalas
At least three of our koalas have names, but the kids may have names for many more! Amanda joined our school as a small koala, after spending a period of time at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. She later caused huge excitement when she showed up at school with a cute baby on her back. Buddy, our school celebrity, made a big entrance at Delungra School by ambling right through the centre of the student’s cricket game in lunch hour. Buddy was suffering from a sore toe, but most distressing, he was on the verge of complete dehydration. He was picked up by our qualified local WIRES volunteers for care, then later released back to the school to the great delight of students and staff alike.
Vision for Koala Rescue
Following the horrific 2020 fires that devastated the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, students from Delungra Public School watched the bushfire footage in horror. As the news sunk in that the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital had suffered unbelievable losses to its koala population, students wanted to know what they could do to help. A koala appeal was quickly set up on Facebook, known as the Delungra P&C Koala Rescue Appeal, a hub where people could come and ask if they could donate. This endeavour to aid Australia’s efforts to help koalas and wildlife rescued from bushfire grounds, now operates to share information regarding our local koala rescue efforts and conservation.
In the Media – “Kids know koalas on a first name basis”
A flurry of media attention helped boost morale for Delungra Public School in 2020. Even before COVID-19 hit, an itinerant mural painter, James Ellis, spent two days during the summer holidays to craft a delightful, larger than life koala mural to greet students on their return to school. Documented in the Inverell Times, February 2020. (link to Inverell Times article early Feb 20) Our current MP Adam Marshall (link: Facebook post 14 March) subsequently paid our school a visit to check out the fabulous mural and praise the students on their eucalypt propagation project. Adam commended them on “Taking up this mighty cause and fighting to ensure koalas remain part of their landscape.”
ABC news journalist Donal Sheil was captivated by Delungra Public School and its koalas. Delungra school students were proud to feature in the Landline documentary (link: Landline on ABC website) in October 2020, which highlighted the devastation of the drought on koala habitat throughout the region. They are very excited to continue to create their own documentaries to keep the public up to date with their conservation efforts.
As a lead up to the Landline story, ABC Statewide Drive jumped on board, interviewing school Principal Toni Withers on ABC radio. Donal Sheil, as co-host, summed up the student’s enthusiasm for the koalas with this comment, “The kids know the koalas on a first name basis. They can spot them from a ridiculous distance!”
Delungra NSW 2403
telephone 02 6724 8407
We would like to pay our respects and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and also pay respect to Elders both past and present.
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