About Us

Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital (NRWH) was formed in January 2019 by a group of environmental advocates, veterinarians and local business owners.

We have secured land and a building in Wollongbar that we are developing into a facility dedicated first and foremost to the critical care of sick and injured native animals. The facility will accommodate short-term rehabilitation of these animals, and will scale to accommodate long-term rehabilitation of certain species to reduce the workload of existing local carers.

NRWH will service the seven Local Government Areas of the Northern Rivers, covering an area of approximately 21,000 square kilometres and encompassing the population centres of Grafton, Ballina, Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, Byron Bay, Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads.

What sets NRHW apart:

  • We have secured a centrally located building and land at Wollongbar that will become our wildlife hospital.
  • We are a public company governed by a multi skilled professional Board and accountable to our member base;
  • We are a registered charity with ACNC and with Deductible Gift Recipient status;
  • We are publicly accountable to ACNC and are subject to annual reporting requirements and an independent audit;
  • We have established strategic partnerships with local community organisations;
  • We have established a Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) as a sub-committee of the Board. The VAC is set up to advise on all matters related to the construction and operation of the NRWH. It has been actively engaged in the design of the wildlife hospital.
  • We have listened to local wildlife care groups to hear their concerns and suggestions. We have built our business plan around that information and we are continuing to engage with them;
  • We will not compromise our objectives of first and foremost treating injured wildlife and working with local care groups.
  • We have designed the NRWH to be a multi-disciplinary operation;
  • We will position ourselves to train vets so that they are properly qualified to treat wildlife and we will provide a significant educational and advocacy presence; and
  • The NRWH Board has established positive relationships with many members of parliament and instrumentalities of government, evidenced by the grant of Crown Land for the NRWH.

Our Board

Sue Higginson – Director

Sue is an environmental law expert and runs her own law practice. She is the former CEO and Principal Solicitor of EDO NSW, the community legal centre that specialises in public interest environment law, where she was responsible for running some of the highest profile environmental litigation in the Country.

Sue is an expert in assisting communities to use the law to protect the environment and has a particular interest in the laws around biodiversity conservation and climate change.

Sue is also a farmer. With her partner she grows dry land rice and other crops on their farm in Northern NSW.

Ninian Gemmell – Chairman

Ninian is a CPA qualified professional with over 35 years of corporate financial experience across a range of industry sectors spanning mining & resources, construction, higher education and not-for-profit organisations.

He has been a board member for a range of not-for-profits, including as a director of the Northern Rivers Community Foundation. Ninian also brings journalism and governance skills to the board.

Tony Gilding – Deputy Chair

Tony Gilding is the owner of the Macadamia Castle, a wildlife park and Northern Rivers NSW tourist icon. He is ex-CEO of an ASX-listed gift company, a serial social campaigner and a Palm Oil activist.

Tony is President of Borneo Orangutan Survival, and was founding member of the UN-sponsored Great Ape Survival Project. He brings IT, marketing and finance experience to the board.

lorraine vass NRWH

Lorraine Vass – Director

Lorraine Vass is a koala conservationist and past president of Friends of the Koala, well known across the Northern Rivers for protecting koalas and their habitats.  Her work has focussed on forming partnerships and alliances to help educate and engage people in koala conservation.

Lorraine was founding secretary of the NSW Wildlife Council, formed to champion the role of licensed wildlife rehabilitation in wildlife conservation and to represent wildlife carers across the state.

The recipient of several awards she was recently made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to wildlife conservation, particularly conservation of the koala.

Our Mission

Operate a world class wildlife hospital

to treat, prevent and relieve the suffering of orphaned, injured or diseased native Australian wildlife.

Advance the natural environment

by preserving and re-establishing the natural habitat of native animals and advocating for the protection of wildlife and habitat.

Improve community knowledge and engagement

by establishing research and educational activities related to environmental conservation and wildlife health.

Grow the wildlife movement

by encouraging other local charitable, cultural and environmental projects that are aligned with our vision.