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2012 Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference

Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference


Wildlife carers are looking after our native animals, how can we look after the carers?

That's the question wildlife carer and Victoria University lecturer Greg Gordon put forward at the 2012 Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference being held in Townsville this week.

Mr Gordon has been involved with the conference since its inception in 2003, and says this year is the first time the issue of emotional trauma has really been examined.

"In my own experience the 2009 bushfires in Victoria were particularly distressful and I know many of us did suffer post traumatic stress syndrome where you didn't sleep you had nightmares for weeks afterwards..."

Mr Gordon says some aspects of wildlife caring such as euthanising animals can be quite distressing particularly for new carers, and he would like to see senior carers given "mental health first aid" training to assist in the recognition and treatment of emotional trauma.

"Our trainers or more experienced people need to be trained in mental health first aid, they need to know how to give that person advice, we need to develop more support from professional organisations like counsellors, psychologists and things like that... because what we do is very emotional."

Conference co-chair and president of NQ Wildlife Care, Jim Pollock, says two of the biggest obstacles facing wildlife carers in 2012 are government recognition and a lack of funding.

"There is just no money for research and development for almost any field, and when it comes to wildlife we seem to be low man on the totem pole."

Mr Pollock attributes the larger turnout of nearly 200 people at this year's conference to Townsville's lovely weather and the opportunity for carers to learn from the country's most experienced carers and researchers.

"They come because the conference is an opportunity to get up to date on the latest information, the latest research."

Download this mp3 file
Greg Gordon on emotional trauma in carers




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