Ruth Barratt was one of a handful of passionate locals that met with National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1986 to raise concerns regarding the loss of mature koala habitat. The notion of Friends of the Koala emerged from this public meeting and made Ruth Barratt one of Friends of the Koala’s founding members.
Ruth held the position of President from 1990 to 1992 and Care Coordinator from 1992 to 2002. As an early President of the organisation, Ruth was adamant about educating the community and raising awareness of the dangers koalas face. With graphic newspaper articles and regular media appearances, Lismore residents soon became aware of the effects of dogs and vehicles strikes, and the importance of habitat preservation.
When Ruth first started caring for orphaned koalas, there were no procedures, manuals or workshops. Ruth pioneered methods for raising orphaned koalas and many of the procedures for rehabilitating sick and injured koalas. She had to learn the hard way, by experience through trial and error and presented many of her successes at Australian Koala Foundation Conferences.
Working with Audrey and John Hyde, and Bert Berryman, Ruth was instrumental in the development of the Care and Research Centre concept and design and later in raising funds for its completion. As Care Coordinator, she procured medicines and other supplies, set up working procedures and roster systems for carers.
As well as regularly collecting leaf, publicising koala issues in the media, Ruth managed to raise and care for hundreds of koalas that were returned to the wild.
Ruth’s efforts were recognised in 1997 when she was awarded an OAM in recognition of the outstanding work done by her in koala conservation.
It is because of people like Ruth that Friends of the Koala exists today. Our current volunteers and staff are building upon the significant legacy established by the thousands of volunteers who have dedicated their time, energy and passion to our cause over the past 35 years.