‘We need to step up’: koala champion honoured
The plight of koalas has been part of the fabric of Jenny Hayes’ life for a long time.
For her work with Team Koala, working to protect the Tweed Coast’s vulnerable koala population, Ms Hayes was recognised as Citizen of the Year in the Tweed Shire’s Australia Day Awards on Tuesday.
While the past 12 months have been tough in so many ways for communities, the plight of koalas has not become any less urgent, Ms Hayes said.
“They were actually under so much pressure anyway and this has just added pressure,” she said.
“We’ve got climate change issues, we’ve got a myriad of issues so we need to step up.
“We need to step up and make a difference and take action and unless we take really a lot of action, they won’t survive.
“With the bushfires and everything else, we have to take urgent action, really, to make a difference.”
Ms Hayes said she was hopeful this recognition would help to reaffirm the importance of protecting koalas.
“I’m feeling really grateful and I hope this is going to put koalas more in the spotlight and that we can do more to help our Tweed Coast koalas,” Ms Hayes said.
“They’re under so much pressure, so to get this award, I feel it’s a way of moving forward to putting them more in the spotlight.”
Ms Hayes said she saw the award being recognition of Team Koala as a whole.
“I don’t see it as me, I see it as Team Koala,” she said.
“It’s an honour for Team Koala to have got this award and I feel really humbled that I’m representative of this amazing group who work together and make such a big difference.
“I’m really thrilled and I’m really grateful.”