About Friends of the Koala Inc. (FOK)

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Our mission

Friends of the Koala is committed to conserving koalas and preserving and enhancing their habitat, particularly in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. In doing this, we aim to make a key contribution to Australia’s biodiversity.

Our core business

  • Rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing koalas
  • Protecting and enhancing their habitat
  • Educating the community about koalas and issues that affect them
  • Advocating on their behalf
  • Assisting relevant research

Key achievements

In the 30 years since Friends of the Koala was first established with a focus on enhancing and protecting koala habitat we’ve become the acknowledged lead organization fighting for koalas in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales. Amongst many other activities, we maintain a 24/7 Rescue Hotline, operate a regional Koala Care Centre in East Lismore, and rescue, treat and care for koalas then release them back into the wild when they’ve recovered. We also organise a merciful death for those that can’t be saved, propagate and distribute koala food trees for planting by landowners, work with local government to develop and implement Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management and enhance koala habitat, and provide advice to landowners on extending koala habitat.

With a volunteer base of about 130 people, by 2016 we had distributed around 134,000 koala food trees across the Northern Rivers, brought into care nearly 4,500 koalas (releasing over 1,000 back into the wild), educated people about caring for and living with koalas, written countless submissions on matters related to koala well-being, participated in numerous research projects and worked with a wide range of diverse partners to ensure the koala’s survival in our region.


Some major FOK milestones

1986

  • Formed as an organisation to enhance and protect koala habitat

1989

  • Licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release koalas under the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974

1990

  • Incorporated as Friends of the Koala Inc.

1994

  • Entry in the Federal Register of Environmental Organisations

1996

  • Koala Care and Research Centre, East Lismore opened
  • Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor’s Special Award

2000

  • Lismore City Council’s Australia Day Achievement Award (Environment Category)
  • 1st Green Corps Project 2004- Koala Conservation and Corridor Connection and Bundjalung Walking Track

2004

  • Outdoor enclosures established at the Koala Care Centre
  • Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation’s Koala and Wildlife Hospital agreed to treat our koalas
  • WildLife Link donated our Rescue Van and trailer

2006

  • Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia’s Community Wildlife Conservation Award

2007

  • 1st Environmental Trust Lead Environmental Community Groups grant

2008

  • 21-year lease on Koala Care & Research site granted by Lismore Council

2009

  • 1st partnership in an ARC Linkage project – Development of an anti-Chlamydial vaccine for the koala

2010

  • NSW Volunteer of the Year Award, Northern Rivers Region Team of the Year Award

2012

  • Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Outstanding Member Group 2012

2013

  • Lismore City Council’s Australia Day Achievement Award (Sustainable Environment)
  • Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Marie Byles Award for the most outstanding new environmental campaign

2014

  • Byron Shire Council’s 2014 World Environment Day Award (Conservation & Land Management)
  • 3 additional outdoor runs extended Koala Care Centre capacity

2015

  • 1st Environmental Trust Lead Environmental Communication Grant

2016

  • Environmental Trust Restoration & Rehabilitation grant over 3 years – Enhancing Lismore wildlife refuges and corridors for threatened species

2017

  • 2017 Environmental Trust Environmental Education grant over 3 years – Koala Watch: Community led koala recovery – Northern Rivers.

Our Current Management Committee Members

Committee Position Holders

Acting President – Ros Irwin
Acting Vice President – Fiona Dawson
Secretary – Aliison Kelly
Treasurer – Katrina Jeffery
Care Coordinator – Susannah Keogh
Volunteer Coordinator – Lola Whitney
Training Officer – Yasmin Cabôt
Leaf Harvesting Coordinator – Marley Christian

Other Committee Members

Mark Ambrose
Christie Budd
Mel Yakas
Nick Bourke



Our Partners

These organisations are invaluable for both Friends of the Koala and our little critters. Without them our work would be that much more difficult.

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fok-partner-05-oth-01-ndcfok-partner-05-oth-02-greater-goodfok-partner-05-oth-03-scuGraphiti Design Studio - Web Development Lismore NSW