Volunteering with FOK
Friends of the Koala is fortunate enough to have the support of close to 150 amazing volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to our cause. We welcome new volunteers at any time and offer a range of rewarding volunteer opportunities. By volunteering with us, not only will you get the opportunity to work closely with koalas, you will also develop new skills, make likeminded friends and work in an engaging, supportive and safe environment.
Volunteers are required to attend various training sessions depending on the skill level they wish to attain and will be subject to an initial two-month probationary period. All volunteers abide by the FOK Code of Conduct [31KB] to protect the health and safety of our koalas and each other.
If you have a few hours to spare a week, a love of koalas and want to support your local community Friends of the Koala may be the place for you! Call our office on (02) 6621 4664 for more information or to arrange an induction session.
Caring for Koalas
Volunteer Koala Carers work closely with the koalas in care at our Centre in East Lismore. Care shifts start at 1pm and usually finish around 4:30pm, depending on how many koalas are currently in care. A substantial part of this role is cleaning koala enclosures which includes; raking, scrubbing perches, hosing and sweeping. Volunteer Koala Carers also replace leaf and water and make observations about the koalas. With dedication and appropriate training, volunteers can assist with administering medications and supplements. This role requires a moderate level of fitness and the ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions. For safety reasons, it is a requirement to wear a hat and sturdy closed-toe shoes. We also recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves for this role.
Volunteers learn how to identify the preferred koala food trees (KFTs) and harvest the amount required each day for koalas in care at our Koala Care and Research Centre. Leafing Volunteers work in pairs and use our leafing van to collect leaf from our plantations. This role requires a commitment of about 3 hours in the morning and involves a high level of fitness and the ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions. For safety reasons, it is a requirement to wear a hat and sturdy closed-toe shoes. We also recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves for this role.
Volunteer Rescuers respond to calls received via our Rescue Hotline and attend to sick, injured or orphaned koalas across the Northern Rivers. The volunteer assesses the situation and, depending on their experience level, will then undertake the rescue or seek further help or advice from our Rescue Coordinator. While essential equipment is provided, Volunteer Rescuers need their own car and a valid driver’s licence. As this role is highly specialised, we recommend volunteers become a Volunteer Koala Carer first, so they can gain experience with koalas and understand the level of commitment required.
Volunteer Hotline Operators staff our 24/7 Rescue Hotline. Answering calls to 02 6622 1233, our operators record the information reported by the caller, provide appropriate advice to the public, and put the call out for nearby, appropriately trained volunteers. Our hotline is transferable so would suit someone who wants to volunteer but does not want, or is not able to get physically involved with rescuing and caring. Volunteer Hotline Operators need patience, a clear telephone voice and must enjoy talking to people from all backgrounds. Also, often callers may be distressed so a calm disposition is critical. Training is provided.
Nursery Volunteers work in our native plant nursery located at our Koala Care and Research Centre in East Lismore. Tasks include weeding, propagating, and thinning native seedlings. For safety reasons, it is a requirement to wear a hat and sturdy closed-toe shoes, we also recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves. Some lifting and standing for long periods may be required. You do not need any previous experience to volunteer, just a love of plants and the outdoors.
International and Interstate Volunteers
Outside of Covid-19, Friends of the Koala welcomes international and interstate volunteers anytime, however there are some basic criteria individuals need to meet before they are accepted into our volunteer program:
- commitment to volunteering daily for a minimum of five days a week for four weeks with us
- willingness to learn and assist in the various activities we offer from our Koala Care and Research Centre in East Lismore, NSW
- their own accommodation
- transport to and from the Care Centre each day, and
- a commitment to the FOK Code of Conduct.
To express your interest in volunteering with us, please email [email protected].
Other Volunteer Roles
From time to time people come forward willing to offer their professional skills or expertise to our cause. In the past we have benefited from the pro bono help of web designers, carpenters, video producers, and journalists to name a few. If you have a skill which would be beneficial to us, please get in contact via [email protected].
If you’ve got other questions about volunteering with us please checkout our FAQs.