On 29.1.2022, current Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his government’s “$50 million boost to the long term protection and recovery efforts” for Australia’s koala populations.
He urged us to “throw our arms around” koalas but is he aware that in Hughes, neighbouring electorate a colony of koalas existed and were perhaps thriving?
From July to September 2021 citizen scientists Steve Anyon-Smith and Tom Kristensen conducted a habitat survey in accessible parts of Heathcote National Park. From their sightings and photographs, they were able to identify 32 individual koalas. With further observations of tree scratching and scats they were able to confirm in their report the existence of a healthy breeding colony and the probability of increased koala numbers and range across the area. You can find maps and further details of their research and recommendations about coordinated government and agency action to map and conserve the local population and habitat of our ‘icon of Australia’s unique fauna’ on the National Parks and Association website link to the report.
Heathcote Road connects the west and eastern parts of our electorate. Single figure koala death totals are reported annually on the road. Sutherland Shire Environment Centre are advocating for resilient habitats for the Koalas including wildlife corridors for safe crossing.
MEET OUR MASCOT
At Linda’s campaign launch Denis Ginnivan from Indi in Victoria brought along an orange cockatoo shape which had become a symbol or mascot for the campaign of successful Indi Independents Cathy McGowan and then Helen Haines.
Inspired by the idea of uniting different parts of the electorate, our volunteer team worked on adapting the concept for Linda’s campaign where caring for our environment is such a central key. The result combined Linda’s campaign colour purple with our nationally beloved koala.
David Godkin local Indi artist and educator talked us through the thinking behind the use of the orange cockatoo in the Indi campaigns, how they were designed to represent the individuality of each constituent as well as symbolise the bringing together of the different parts of the electorate. Orange cockatoos are prominently displayed at Indi electorate hubs and look out from trees for community gatherings and events.
The next step for us was to trial koala shapes and materials. Volunteers sourced already used corflutes and got to work experimenting with cutting and spraying techniques and koala feature designs. We’re now ready for the roll out of our first purple koalas.
We will paste a QR code to the koalas. The QR code will take you to Linda’s website where there are details about Linda’s campaign and links to more information about researching and protecting koala habitats.
If you would like to ‘host’ a purple koala please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d ask that you:
1. take a purple koala photo in your neighbourhood & post it to your social media channels with the #hashtag #LindaSeymour4Hughes and #HughesVotes with text listing your suburb and how you’re involved in the campaign or why you are supporting Linda.
2. take care of your purple koala so that it’s able to be re-recycled. We hope that the only koalas ‘out in the wild’ in Hughes are those in the Heathcote National Park colony.
3. keep track of the purple koala campaign via the website and social media as we’ll be adding links and events as Linda’s campaign gets closer to Election Day.
Stay tuned for more information soon about:
• a community forum with experts about what we can do to preserve koala and other endangered species habitats.
• volunteer workshops to produce more purple koalas for display around the Hughes electorate. This blog has been prepared by Lynne Edwards. Lynne is a long term Grays Point resident, secondary educator, community volunteer, Nana & Purple Koala wrangler!