Koala Forum attracts expert speakers


Renowned koala experts including Dr Kath Handasyde and Dr Desley Whisson will speak at a special Mornington Peninsula Shire community forum aimed at finding ways to protect the Peninsula’s koala population.

The forum is free for the community to attend via online ticket and is intended to encourage broad discussion about what can be done to protect koalas and enhance their habitat.

Following the public forum, a report will be prepared for Council on the establishment of an Advisory Committee to investigate protections for koalas and other threatened flora and fauna species within the municipality.

Mayor Sam Hearn urged all residents concerned about our local koala population to attend the forum.

“I know many in the community are deeply concerned about the diminishing koala population on the Mornington Peninsula,” he said.

“We need to canvas all ideas on what more can be done to protect them.”

Red Hill Ward Councillor David Gill – who instigated the forum – said: “we need a koala survival masterplan, not only for the Peninsula but for the whole of Victoria.”

“This task is urgent, especially after the catastrophic bushfires we’ve just experienced.”

“With this forum we want to engage with a wider audience on the protection of koalas and koala habitat, as well as protections for other threatened species. We will also discuss the possibility of a wildlife hospital for the Peninsula.”

The forum will feature a range of speakers, including Malcolm Legg and Dr Emily Hynes, and representatives from local organisations working to preserve koalas and their habitat.


Thursday, 26thMarch, 6 –10pm

Peninsula Community Theatre

91 Wilsons Road,


Bookings essential: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/koala-forum-finding-ways-to-support-koala-conservation-tickets-90270472413

A light supper of sandwiches, tea and coffee will be provided.


Dr Kath Handasyde is a pre-eminent researcher of Australian mammals. Her research activities include the basic ecology and key management issues for koalas, platypus and possums in south-eastern Australia, wildlife conservation and management, and disease and ecophysiology of Australian mammals. She has retired as a senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne and served as Chair of the Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Animal Ethics Committee for 22 years.

Dr Desley Whisson’s research focusses on identifying scientifically-based solutions to human-wildlife conflicts. She has previously worked as manager of the Kangaroo Island Koala Management Program and is now a Senior Lecturer in Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Deakin University and has conducted research on the southern distribution of koalas, population dynamics, and behaviour.

Dr Emily Hynes is the director of Ecoplan Australia. She is a skilled field ecologist with expertise in managing both overabundant and threatened native fauna. Of note is her extensive experience with koalas, kangaroos and possums.

Emily completed her PhD through the Zoology department at the University of Melbourne. Her research focused on developing and implementing effective management strategies for high-density koala populations in south-eastern Australia.

Malcolm Legg has over 20 years field work and experience within the Gippsland Plain bio-region, Victorian Volcanic Plain and other parts of Victoria. He has a wealth of experience conducting field surveys, monitoring threatened and feral fauna, establishing feral control programs and presenting to interest groups and the public on the plight of our fauna and their habitat. He has conducted over 500 fauna surveys within Mornington Peninsula Shire and created the Mornington Peninsula Wildlife Atlas.

Dirk Jansen is a member of the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation Group, which aims to raise awareness of the challenges koalas face on the Peninsula, assess the current population size and key locations and identify and implement initiatives to reverse the decline and secure the future of our local koala population.

Craig Thomson has a history of working in the environmental services industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Negotiation, Event Management, Team Building, and Public Speaking. An emerging entrepreneurship professional with a Peninsula Habitat Management Course focused in Bushland Restoration from Chisholm and SPIFFA.

Clarissa Garnaut from WHOMP (Wildlife Help on the Mornington Peninsula).

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