Koala Warriors - Colleen Wood and Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar These are some of the beautiful rescued koalas being cared for by Colleen Wood and her team of volunteers at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter here in Victoria. It's been a long time between visits but last Saturday Tony and I were thrilled to visit Colleen and her sister Jenni and have the honour of meeting the koalas in their care. Colleen has been a huge inspiration to us over the years. She has dedicated her life to the plight of the koala in Australia, she is a leading expert in koala care and education and told me that it didn't matter what was going on in her life, her mission to help and protect them is always her priority.

Colleen Wood Southern Ash shelter

Colleen inspires me so much because she is not an extrovert or a natural leader, she is in fact a quiet person and even a shy person. But the call of her work gives her the strength to go out into the world over and over again to speak on behalf of the koalas who are facing so many dangers to their health and habitat. She educates wildlife carers, zoo workers and also people working for corporations involved in logging because she was does not want to attack - she is a warrior of love for the koalas and knows that the more people that know and understand this sacred and ancient animal, the more they will be compelled to act with care.

This year, after 20 years of service to the koalas, Colleen was finally recognised by the Australian government and she was awarded an Environment Achievement award on Australia Day. Her wish is that finally the plight of the koala and their habitat becomes more known so that we can act now to preserve them and their homes in the future.

This work is not easy. Colleen and her staff see so much tragedy. The work of the wildlife carer is linked as much to death as it is to life - they are right there on the frontline with the animals they love so much. I am awed by Colleen's determination to never stop helping and it made me think about ways that I can help more. We are not all able to do the same work and shouldn't judge or compare ourselves to others which usually results in feeling less worthy or courageous and that doesn't help anything. Instead, we can find ways to assist and do more in our own way. For me this was offering to hold a healing ceremony on the land of the shelter to honour the spirits of the koalas that have not survived and with love release the huge weight of grief that Colleen and her carers have been carrying. It is hard enough to do this work without carrying grief of the past. Once we hold our ceremony of release we will create a medicine dollmaking circle so that each carer can create a doll to hold hope and vision for them in the future. In difficult times in the future this doll will be a beacon of light to remind them of their strength and courage.  She will be a bright reminder of their own love.

When I returned home I created a doll call FireVoice inspired by people like Colleen who despite their own quiet natures, stand up and speak out for the vulnerable. This doll will be auctioned at the upcoming Friday 13th StarTribes Dollmarket to be held online as a Facebook event next week and the funds raised will go to the koalas at the Southern Ash shelter.

You can also sponsor a koala at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter for as little as $40 as well as give a donation of what ever amount you can afford. Southern Ash is the most amazing shelter we have ever visited, they receive no government assistance and everyone who works there does so as a volunteer - every cent you give goes straight to the koalas.

Thank you Colleen and Jenni! We look forward to our medicine dollmaking circle with you and your koala tribe!

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar

FireVoice medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

Julia Inglis Sacred Familiar

The Weekly Familiar - Koala

The Weekly Familiar - An animal message from Tony

KOALA: Koala is a marsupial that lives high up in the gumtrees and is native to only Australia. The koala teaches us about the importance of rest and sleep. It's medicine is of the Dreamer. It comes to us when we need to take time out of 'busyness' and relax. If the Koala has been making itself known to you through dreaming and meditation it may be because there has been too much worrying, which can make the mind race in circles and lead to exhaustion. Let the Koala show you how to step back from your worries and just BE. Not all problems can be solved through the mind, some of our greatest breatkthroughs in difficult situations come through our Dreaming. Koala would urge you to rest - can you make time for a nap today or even better, embrace in a long, deep period of sleep.
Be Wild!
These photographs were taken last year at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Victoria an incredible volunteer animal shelter run by Colleen Wood and her amazing team who work without any funding or assistance from the government. Colleen is the leading expert on koala care and welfare in Australia and she would be so grateful for any assistance and donations you can spare to help care for these beautiful animals that are unfortunately in so much danger due to expanding urban environments and man-created diseases. Did you know that you can sponsor one of these gorgeous creatures for just $40?! Colleen's aim is to help as many koalas come to full healing and be returned again to the wild. You can find out more about the work of Southern Ash at their website and on their Facebook page.