About the Society
The Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia was founded in 1909 by a group of enthusiastic bushwalkers. Our founders suggested the need for such a group in a talk with the Naturalists’ Society of New South Wales (NSW). The Swedish Consul-General for Australia, Count Birger Mörner, organised the first preliminary discussion in the consulate on 11 May 1909. As an outcome of this discussion, it was decided to call a public meeting on forming such a society. Fifty people attended and were enrolled as the first members of the Society. Within one week, the newly formed Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia had grown to more than 100 members. The provisional committee worked hard, and in the same year, the inaugural meeting adopted a constitution and elected the first chairman, the Honourable Frederick Earle Winchcombe MLC. The Society pioneered the recognition of the need for legal protection for Australia’s animals and plants.
Today, we are known as the Australian Wildlife Society (AWS). We are a national not-for-profit wildlife conservation organisation. Our mission is to conserve Australia’s wildlife (flora and fauna) through national environmental education, public awareness, advocacy, hands-on conservation work, and community involvement. We are an independent, non-controversial, and a-political body. We are a tax-deductible gift recipient registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission. Our public fund is listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations under item 6.1.1 of subsection 30-55(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. The Society is funded through membership fees, sponsorship, partnerships, and donations and is managed by an elected Board of up to ten volunteer Directors. We hold regular monthly meetings to discuss important wildlife conservation matters and make several significant decisions on which we act.
Our Society has always known that a battle is never really won until the victory is enshrined in legislation. We have always tried to convince politicians to include preserving Australia’s wildlife and its vital conservation habitat in all their planning and environmental issues and discussions. Furthermore, we act as a watchdog and advise government agencies and institutions regarding ecological and conservation problems concerning wildlife preservation.
The Australian Wildlife magazine is the flagship of the Society and has proved extremely popular amongst all our members. The magazine has developed since the 1930s from black and white to colour. You can become actively involved in the newsletter and magazine by sending photos and written articles for inclusion. We also produce a monthly e-newsletter to help convey the importance of wildlife conservation, the work of the Society, and news from our members.
Our Society is aware that many organisations, individuals, and thousands of volunteers are working tirelessly to save Australia’s native wildlife and the precious habitats in which they live. We are proud to acknowledge and reward these individuals or conservation groups and encourage them to continue their excellent work on behalf of the community. The Society offers four prestigious Annual Awards – the Serventy Conservation Award, Community Wildlife Conservation Award, Wildlife Rehabilitation Award, and Youth Conservation Awards. Applications are due by 31 December.
Another highlight is awarding our ten University Research Grants offered to honours or postgraduate students at Australian universities. Each year, ten grants of $3,000 are awarded. Grants are available for research projects of direct relevance to the conservation of Australian wildlife, and applications are due by 31 May.
We also award three unique University Scholarships. The Wildlife Ecology Research Scholarship is open to postgraduate research students undertaking a research project directly relevant to the conservation of Australia’s wildlife. Scholarships are valued at $5,000 for one year. Applications are due by 31 May.
The Society also offers Conservation Group Grants. The Board of the Society carefully considers all requests for grants from conservation groups that emphasise wildlife preservation. A grant application form is available on the website should you be interested in applying.
The Society holds a Threatened Wildlife Photographic Competition, a national competition that rewards and promotes the conservation of threatened or endangered Australian wildlife through photography. The Society invites photographers to raise the plight of threatened wildlife across Australia. The closing date for entries is 30 June, and online voting is from 1 to 31 July.
The National Colouring-in Competition is designed to inspire the younger generation to learn about Australia’s native wildlife via visual art and creativity. We hope the experience allows participants to explore and develop a deeper understanding of environmental and wildlife-related issues. Entries are due by 30 November.
The Society established the Platypus Alliance - a group of wildlife advocates working together to protect Australia’s semi-aquatic species, such as the platypus, rakali, and turtles, from becoming tangled in enclosed yabby traps and drowning horrible deaths. The Platypus Alliance continues to advocate for protecting these species across Australia.
The Society founded Australian Wildlife Week, celebrated across Australia during the first week of October to encourage a positive relationship between humanity and nature. We hope to raise awareness and inspire all Australians to explore and develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues, gain the necessary skills to make informed decisions, and take action to improve the environment.
The Society established Snip Rings for Wildlife in 2020. A campaign raising awareness and encouraging individuals to protect Australia’s wildlife by cutting through plastic rings, rubber bands, hair ties, loops of facemasks, and dome-shaped plastic lids, in their entirety, before disposing of them.
President, Dr Julie Old
Dr Julie Old is a wildlife biologist passionate about educating future generations regarding the importance of conserving native wildlife and the natural environment.
She completed her PhD in 2002 in marsupial immunology and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Macquarie University before commencing her teaching position at Western Sydney University in 2006.
Julie’s research expertise combines immunology, developmental biology, molecular biology, anatomy, microscopy, ecological techniques, and citizen science to solve critical wildlife health and disease issues, especially marsupials.
Since 1998, her research has resulted in over 110 scientific publications in high-impact journals, including PLoS One and DCI. Julie regularly disseminates her findings to the wider community.
In between teaching, Julie conducts her own research. She has been exploring sarcoptic mange in wombats for several years and is very concerned about the plight of wombats. Her observations of wombats suffering from sarcoptic mange led her to develop the Citizen Science project, WomSAT. WomSAT aims to educate the broader community about wombats and sarcoptic mange and collect data that can help conserve wombats, including their distribution and abundance, sarcoptic mange incidence, and roadkill. Using WomSAT, Julie aims to enhance the profile of wombats in the wider community and hopes everyone gains a greater appreciation of wombats and their role in the environment. She hopes WomSAT is a tool to help successfully manage and conserve these wonderful Australian animals for future generations. WomSAT has recorded more than 21,000 sightings and has a strong social media following #WombatWednesday. In 2022, Julie became a Board member of the Wombat Foundation.
Julie is a professional representative on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Audit and Compliance Committee and Regional Advisory Committee and is a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Advisory Council member. She also sits on the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan (CPCP) Pest Animal Control Working Group.
In 2020, Julie was short-listed for the New South Wales Nature Conservation Council’s Allen Strom Hall of Fame Award.
Julie joined the Society as a Director in 2018 and became Senior Vice President in 2020. In 2021, Julie was elected as the 119th President of the Society. Julie is committed to actively promoting the Youth Conservation Award and national University Research Grants, alongside Annual Awards, as young people can drive lasting and sustainable change and become the next ambassadors in wildlife conservation.
Julie’s future goals for the Society are: 1. Support current and future wildlife conservationists to protect and conserve our native wildlife for future generations, 2. Enhance the ability of wildlife researchers to increase our knowledge of Australia’s flora and fauna, thus providing information critical to understanding how we can best conserve our unique flora and fauna, and 3. Educate the broader community on issues affecting our native flora and fauna so that everyone can make informed decisions to aid species conservation.
Senior Vice President, Stephen Grabowski
Stephen has been active in the financial services industry for over 20 years. Stephen holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) and a Graduate Certificate of Applied Finance and has his own firm ‘Grabowski Financial Planning’. Prior to Stephen’s involvement in the Society, the return on our investments was negligible. Under Stephen’s stewardship, the Society’s investments grew considerably. We feel that the Society’s investments are in safe hands, and we have no hesitation in endorsing Stephen as a trustworthy and competent financial manager. Stephen was appointed as a Director on the board in 2016 and was re-elected as Vice President in 2020. Stephen is a lifetime member and his future goals for the Society are to expand its membership base and social media profile and establish as a “go-to” peak conservation organisation.
Vice President, Dr Robin Crisman
Dr Robin Crisman was appointed as a Director, filling a casual vacancy on the Board, on 2 December 2020. Robin, the Head Veterinarian at Somersby Animal Hospital, graduated from Texas A&M University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, Bachelor of Biomedical Science, and a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. She has been in practice for over twenty-five years and has worked in a variety of environments including Racing New South Wales as a race day vet, and in the breeding shed of several large horse studs, both in Texas and Australia. She also has a great love of native wildlife working with Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park, Blackbutt Reserve, Australian Reptile Park, and Aussie Ark. Robin developed her love for emergency and critical care during her time as an Assistant Chief of Staff of a practice in Texas. While working at this practice, she was voted 'Best Vet' in Dallas. She is a certified scuba diver and travels all over the globe in search of the perfect dive site. Robin's achievements also include being honoured as the 2019 Australian Small Animal Veterinarian Practitioner of the Year and also awarded the Australian Wildlife Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Award in 2017. Robin's future goals for the Society include: 1. Finding ways to preserve more wildlife habitat, 2. Further research efforts to promote more understanding of our vulnerable species, and 3. Advocating for more wildlife corridors especially in areas of threatened species.
Treasurer, Dr Hayley Stannard
Dr Hayley Stannard has been a member of the Society since 2007 and was appointed as a Director on the Board on 7 July 2021. Hayley’s research interests are focused on conservation biology and physiology of vertebrates, comprising of research focused on comparative physiology, welfare, and biodiversity conservation. She has made strong collaborative research links with national parks, zoos, and private animal groups. Hayley completed her PhD on optimising nutrition and health in carnivorous marsupials in 2012. After which, she taught numerous Animal Science and Zoology subjects at Western Sydney University before doing a postdoc. Hayley was a Postdoctoral Research Associate on an ARC Linkage grant with Taronga Conservation Society and the University of Sydney. Her project focused on optimising nutrition in the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) breeding program and investigating nutritional ecology in a related species, the fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata). Hayley also taught on the Animal and Veterinary Bioscience and Veterinary Science degrees at the University of Sydney before joining Charles Sturt University (CSU) in 2019. At CSU, she teaches anatomy and physiology subjects and continues her research on native wildlife. Hayley has written several articles for the Society’s magazine, and her future goals for the Society include: 1. To conserve native flora and fauna by preserving and protecting habitats, 2. Support wildlife carers and the essential work they do for native wildlife, and 3. Promote sustainable use of natural resources to aid the conservation of our unique flora and fauna.
Company Secretary | Patrick W Medway AM
Patrick has maintained a keen and enthusiastic interest in wildlife preservation and conservation throughout his long and distinguished career.
He first joined the Society in 1976 and later took Life Membership of the Wildlife Preservation Society in 1988. He has been an active member serving as Honorary Secretary and Executive Director of the Society since 1995.
Patrick graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney (Diploma in Public Relations with Credit – 1974, BA Communications – 1977) and the University of New South Wales (Master's degree in Educational Administration – 1991). He is a member of the Australian College of Educators (MACE) and is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (FPRIA), as well as being an Honorary Life Member of the International Police Association, Australian National Section (HLM 22).
Patrick began his early career as an Army and Police officer, then joined the NSW Department of Education in 1970 as Community Relations Manager.
Patrick was seconded from the NSW Department of Education to serve as Director and Chief Education Officer of the Currumbin Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast from 1985-87.
He has also spent time at the Wetland and Waterfowl Centre in Slimbridge in the United Kingdom and has visited many major wildlife parks, wildlife sanctuaries and botanic gardens around the world.
With his professional qualifications, experience and expertise, he has been actively involved in many conservation, zoological, botanical and educational associations across Australia. He co-authored Conservation Victories with the late Dr Vincent Serventy AM and commissioned two other publications Conserving Australia's Wildlife and 100 Years of Saving Australia's Wildlife, to mark the Centenary of the Society in 2009.
Patrick was appointed to the State Council for the NSW Nature Conservation Council in 1995 and served for five years. He was appointed to the NSW Pest Animal Control Council in 2002 and presently serves on the NSW Kangaroo Management Advisory Panel.
Patrick is a former Chairman of the Towra Point Steering Committee and President of the 'Friends of Towra Point Nature Reserve' and has an abiding interest in wetland and wildlife management.
Patrick was elected as National President on the retirement of Dr Vincent Serventy AM in 2002 and served for eight years in that capacity before nominating Suzanne Medway to the position of President of the Society in 2010.
Patrick was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) on 26 January 2003 in the Australia Day Honours for his 'Service to conservation and the environment through environmental education in a range of organisations and committees concerned with the preservation of wildlife and nature, particularly the Australian Wildlife Society'.
His current ambition is to establish a sustainable and commercially viable National Headquarters for the Society.
Director, Wayne Greenwood
Wayne joined the Society in 2009 and became a Director on the Board in 2016. He has a BA, Master of Transport Management, Registered Project Manager and Dip PM, CMILT, AFAITI, MAIPM. Wayne is the Managing Director of Project Management Pty Ltd. He has a long term interest in wildlife conservation with strong family connections in the country. He is very committed to helping to save Australia’s native wildlife and promoting Land for Wildlife projects. Wayne expects to retire to Kangaroo Valley and consequently have more time to devote to helping the Society and its projects. Wayne property is part of the Greater Eastern Ranges Wildlife Initiative. Over the past few years, he has been actively remediating areas of their property, which has enabled wildlife like lyrebirds, echidnas and wombats to return in number to their property. Wayne’s future goal for the Society is to promote wildlife conservation in all schools for future generations of children.
Director, Trevor Evans
Trevor joined the Society in 2001. In 2009, he was nominated as a representative of the Australian Ecosystems Foundation. He became a Director on the Board in 2016. Trevor holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Ecotourism & Ecosystem management) from Charles Sturt University NSW. Trevor is General Manager of Secret Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, Lithgow. He has a wide experience in wildlife management, wildlife conservation, environmental education programs and hands-on experience in breeding rare and endangered species. Trevor represents on a number of government and agency threatened species programs/projects. He was awarded Conservationist of the year in 2010. Trevor holds a Reptile Keepers’ licence (RK59930 – Class 1 Licence) and an Outdoor Guide licence (NPWS of NSW). He is also licensed to hold endangered species, exhibit Australian Wildlife (DPI l0032) and is licensed with Zoo and Aquarium Association. Trevor was the recipient of the Wildlife Preservation Society Community Conservation Award in 2009.
Director, Brian Scarsbrick AM
Brian is an innovator and strong networker with government, industry, the corporate sector and research/academic communities. Brian has held senior positions throughout his career, from Regional Director of Agriculture to leading a small professional multi-disciplinary team at Landcare Australia Ltd. and the most recent, Chief Executive Officer of The National Trust of Australia NSW (2012-2017). Brian succeeded in helping to bring about a culture change in addressing soil degradation and water and air pollution through developing 'win-win' partnerships between corporates, government and the community. In 2007 Landcare Australia Ltd. established a Carbon Trading Pool (CarbonSmart) of Landcare group biodiversity plantings. CarbonSmart then targeted large companies to reduce their carbon footprint, enhance their Corporate Social Responsibility image concerning environmental and social issues, and financially assist farmers through carbon farming. Brian became a member of the Society in 2019 and was appointed as a Director in March 2020. In 2021, Brian was elected as Vice President. Brian's future goals for the Society are: 1. Provide assistance and advice to help facilitate the recovery of biodiversity with particular emphasis of wildlife following the devastation from the Australia wide bushfires, 2. to bring an enhanced botanical and habitat perspective to the activities of the Society, and 3. help promote the importance of enhancing flora biodiversity (in particular trees) in reducing carbon emissions.
Director, John Creighton
John Creighton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up, he loved to explore the surrounding swamps with their alligators, snakes, deer, squirrels, and beautiful birds. After completing degrees in history and sociology and a diploma in education, he decided to become a teacher while continuing to serve in the Army Reserve. After serving in the army, love brought him to Australia. A few decades later, having settled in the Southern Highlands, he decided to devote his life to caring for the region’s bare-nosed wombats (Vombatus ursinus). He soon discovered significant challenges for releasing rehabilitated wombats safely and, after attending a Wombat Protection Society conference in 2015, learned that mange was a huge problem. John found that the major animal welfare groups did not want to deal with mange because it was seen as too hard, and the medicine was expensive. He decided this was a battle that had to be fought, so he established Wombat Care Bundanoon in 2015 and focused on treating mange. In 2019, John received the Australian Wildlife Society’s prestigious Wildlife Rehabilitation Award for his wombat rehabilitation work. John joined the Society in March 2020 and became an interim Director in December 2022.
Director, Dr Michael Swinbourne
Dr Michael Swinbourne joined the Royal Australian Air Force in June 1979 as a direct entry aircrew officer. He served in Nos 10 and 11 Squadrons and was awarded the Australian Service Medal for service on operations in south-east Asia. Mike retired from the RAAF in December 2002 with the rank of Wing Commander. After leaving the RAAF, Mike worked in several different occupations, including a stint in the Department of Education and Employment and Workplace Relations as a contract manager. Between 2005 - 2019, he undertook tertiary studies at the University of Queensland and the University of Adelaide. He was awarded a Bachelor of Applied Science (Parks and Wildlife Management), a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) in Environmental Biology, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science and Remote Sensing and Spatial Sciences. Mike is currently working as an independent consultant in environmental management and as a guest lecturer and post-graduate supervisor at the University of Adelaide on wildlife management, as well as undertaking ongoing research on the wardu (Lasiorhinus latifrons) and wombat (Vombatus ursinus) populations in South Australia. Mike joined the Society and became Director in June 2023. Mike’s future goals for the Society include: 1. To advocate strongly for legislation and policies which protect our unique fauna, 2. To increase community awareness of the need to protect our biodiversity and fauna, and 3. Support students and graduates in careers and research, which increase our understanding of Australian wildlife.
National Office Manager | Editor, Megan Fabian
Megan is the National Office Manager of the Australian Wildlife Society and Editor of the Society’s Australian Wildlife magazine. She is a conservationist passionate about safeguarding native species and natural ecosystems for future generations. She has grown up engaging in outdoor activities such as bushwalking and camping, which has been vital in fostering her passion for nature and wildlife. Megan completed a Bachelor of Natural Science (Animal Science), majoring in Zoology and sub-majoring in Conservation Biology, and a Master of Research Degree in Wildlife Conservation/Citizen Science at Western Sydney University. Megan’s research has resulted in three publications. She has worked as a sessional Academic, Animal Technician, and volunteer zookeeper. Megan taught ‘Animal Science’ and ‘Animal Health and Welfare’ subjects at Western Sydney University. She was an Animal Technician for two years, working with small native mammals and reptiles. She worked at Symbio Wildlife Park, gaining experience with native birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates. She has also travelled to parts of Australia and worldwide to broaden her knowledge of wildlife-related issues. Megan has been a member of the Society since 2015 and secured her position as the National Office Manager in May 2019. Megan’s future goals for the Society are: 1. To become more well-known in the wider community, 2. Continue supporting wildlife conservationists to protect Australia’s flora and fauna, and 3. Educate and encourage the wider community to take action to protect Australia’s biodiversity for future generations.
Clerical Assistant, Kelly Piper
Kelly is a dedicated and technically skilled business professional with a versatile administrative support skill set developed through experience as an office manager, secretary, administrative assistant, and office clerk. She excels in resolving employer challenges with innovative solutions, systems, and process improvements proven to increase efficiency, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line. Kelly has excellent time management skills and a proven ability to meet deadlines. Kelly is passionate and has a robust skill set with numbers and finance. She offers advanced computer skills in MS Office Suite, MYOB, XERO, QuickBooks, POS Systems, and other applications.
Dr Julie Old
Senior Vice President
Dr Robin Crisman
Dr Hayley Stannard
Patrick Medway AM
Brian Scarsbrick AM
Dr Mike Swinbourne
What are the benefits of being identified with the Australian Wildlife Society?
Here are some to be considered.
Durability: The Australian Wildlife Society (previously known as the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia Limited) is Australia’s oldest wildlife conservation organisation. Founded in May 1909, it has served Australia for over 100 years. The Society has survived two world wars, economic depressions, and social turmoil. Our brand image is one of endurance – we have always been here, and we will always be here!
Service: The Australian Wildlife Society has been served by committed volunteers throughout its entire existence for more than 100 years. Without any form of Government financial assistance, which some other conservation organisations enjoy, we have fought for the conservation and welfare of Australia’s unique wildlife without fear or favour and have achieved many remarkable victories. We are still an organisation of volunteers willing to give our own time to benefit the broader Australian community.
Integrity: Due to our heritage and committed service, we have earned the respect of other conservation organisations and governments and agencies. As a result, we have been invited to sit on Government advisory panels and agency committees, i.e. Kangaroo Management Advisory Panel, NSW Pest Animal Council and Greater Sydney Regional Pest Animal Management Committee, local government strategic planning advisory committees etc. We have developed a set of well-considered policies publicly available on our website.
Genuineness: The Australian Wildlife Society focuses on the welfare of all Australian wildlife. We are strongly identified with Australia. The echidna on our logo has been identified with us long before it appeared on Australia’s five-cent coin. As an early conservationist said, we are ‘down to earth’ in our wildlife conservation work, like the echidna. We are the epitome of genuine Australianness.
Any organisation that wishes to project an image of durability, service, integrity, and genuineness can do no better than identify itself with the Australian Wildlife Society.
Green Commandments for a better world
The Green Commandments for sustainable development of our Planet are:
01. All people have a right to an Earth where they can live in good health and enjoy a fair quality of life.
02. No one has the right to substantially alter the natural world in a way that will damage the world’s basic resources.
03. All people must conserve the present diversity of the natural world. Extinction is forever.
04. All people must plan their future so the resources they use will be sustainable and when they use non-sustainable materials, plan for a future when these will be exhausted.
05. All people giving aid to others must be sure the help will increase the quality of life of those they assist, not forcing them into new ways of living, destroying their culture.
06. All people must use the world’s common resources concerning all other people, both now and in the future.
07. All nations must carry out their obligations under all environmental agreements. A world court should decide on serious breaches, while other pressures such as boycotts must be used when more suitable for the occasion.
08. All nations must co-operate, not only in monitoring their own environment but also in their obligations to the rest of the world.
09. All nations must develop a sustainable population policy and adhere to it.
10. All nations and individuals must develop a new morality, not based only on particular religions but with values of respect for all humans' rights and those of the natural environment.