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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1313 ..

climate summit. Australia went to that summit. The best you can say for our contribution is that we showed up. Let us call on our federal government and all our state and territory counterparts to do better.

My daughter is seven years old. She has never experienced a normal climate and she never will. By the time she is my age, Canberra will not have a winter anymore. I will be joining my daughter at the next School Strike 4 Climate on 21 May in Glebe Park. I am expecting it to be another extremely upsetting day, another day when we listen to thousands of children who are literally begging their leaders for their lives. We are those leaders. We need to listen.


DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.59): I wish to bring to the attention of this Assembly the challenges faced by our wombat population in the ACT, in particular the issue of mange, which presents a major threat. We are lucky, living in the bush capital, to have frequent encounters with many of Australia’s unique and iconic native flora and fauna, of which the kangaroo is undoubtedly the most common.

Less frequently, but occasionally, we are reminded of our wombat population. Because we do not see wombats all the time, the issues they face are often invisible to us. Mange is perhaps the single largest issue facing the wombat population in the ACT and surrounding areas. Sarcoptic mange is a highly infectious disease that transfers between many kinds of animals, including humans.

The female mite burrows her way through the skin of wombats and leaves behind a trail of eggs, to which the host has an allergic reaction. The allergic reaction causes the wombat to scratch, resulting in open wounds on the wombat’s skin, which often become infected, particularly in the warmer months. As time passes, a thick skin plaque grows across the wombat’s body like a crust. The crust will often grow over the eyes and ears of the wombat, causing blindness and deafness. Once a wombat has mange, it is dying.

Treatment of this disease is difficult. In Canberra there are organisations doing fantastic work to help our furry friends. I had the pleasure of catching up recently with Yolandi Vermaak, the founder of Wombat Rescue. Yolandi is tackling the issue by raising greater public awareness and through the mange treatment programs that she runs. If the community is not aware of the issue, then wombats with mange will go unreported and untreated.

The second part of the battle that Yolandi is tackling is treatment. Late last year, in an interview with ABC Radio, Yolandi reported that an estimated 70 per cent of the bare-nosed wombat population across the ACT and New South Wales has been impacted. Trying to treat such a significant proportion of the population is tough. The treatment for mange is long term, a year or longer, and labour and resource intensive. After finding the burrows of wombats, a flap is installed at the entrance. When a wombat walks through the flap, the treatment is directly distributed onto the animal and begins taking effect.

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