Theresa & Tony Matthews
Together we created and run Our Haven Wildlife Shelter Inc. located at Golden Beach Victoria, we moved to Gippsland in 2009 from the Mornington Pensulia, after my husband Tony had a work accident in 2000 and was deemed a total disability, unable to work again. We moved here because of our love for the wildlife. I have always cared for injured birds and checked the pouches of deceased animals on the side of the road because of my knowledge of pouch joeys.
The day changed my life
In 2010 after moving into our new home in Golden Beach my husband was in our front garden when a car pulled up and called him over these people handed him a unfurred eastern grey joey and drove off with no explanation, my husband came to me shocked, as was I wondering what we were to do with this little guy who’s name became Bobby. After warming little Bobby up I started ringing around to find a home for him with a registered carer believing there would be abundant carers in Gippsland as there was in the Mornington Peninsula. Countless calls with no replies I was worried as I knew this little guy needed milk with no idea on what type of milk or teats I proceed to check on the internet. After gathering my information I sent my husband off armed with a list of what we needed. Day 2 finally someone had returned my call only to tell me there was very few carers all of which were unable to care for this beautiful little boy because they were full to capacity, and I was told he would have to be euthanized. My heart broke looking into this healthy little boys eyes and there was no way I could let this happen, therefor that day changed my life, and that’s how I became a wildlife rescuer and rehabilitation shelter. Armed with information I had to find a shelter to take me on as a carer, and I did find a beautiful lady willing to give me a chance. I never realized how hard it was to bring up a grey kangaroo its said they are the hardest animal in the world to hand raise, as they stress very easily which I have found to be true compared to Wallabies, wombats and possums. For this reason not many carers will take them on due to the heartbreak of losing them. So far I have had a high success rate. We have not had a holiday since we started this venture which has given us a purpose we don’t mind going without as we love and care about our wildlife and believe they are worth it.
Financially its been a huge struggle as my husband is on disability pension and unable to work & I work as a personal care attendant partime because of my husband’s health. Our Haven Wildlife Shelter Inc. is run in the most part completely by us alone. This was not planed, the wildlife found us, we live on a standard house block. Joeys are fed specialist milk till they are eighteen months of age. On average we go through 20 kgs of milk in about 18 days. Because our block is so small we have to buy hard feeds e.g. charf and dry grasses for them. All medications, x-rays and pathology are paid for by us.
Our Haven Wildlife Shelter Inc. do the very best to raise local awareness and participate in Bunnings bbqs, give talks at local clubs and schools. We have tried putting donation tins around but very little comes from these. In Gippsland there is abundant wildlife and it is taken for granted.
The Community of Golden Beach have supported Our Haven Wildlife Shelter Inc. really well. Some of the community collect grass, some help feed the joeys, some help with sewing pouches and washing to provide sized clean pouches for the joeys.
Our Dream has come true! After a mountain of effort, by a lot of people, we are at a new location on land out of town. Which is a story for another time…. Our Shelter is able to ‘soft release’ our orphans and rehabilitated wildlife safely, no stress, happy and excited with me waving goodbye with happy tears.