Every day has been 'Koala Day' for the last 15 years for Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass.
Every day has been 'Koala Day' for the last 15 years for Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass. Cathy Adams

Friends of the Koala president steps down

LORRAINE Vass will leave her role as President of the Management Commitee of Friends of the Koala (FOK) on June 30, after 15 years at the head of the organisation.

Ms Vass made the announcement to the organisation last week, and confirmed the news via her Facebook page.

"Last week I announced my retirement as FOK's President to the Management Committee, to be effective COB on 30 June," she posted.

"15 years is more than long enough and there are great people to carry on.

"With the new Education & Admin building well on the way FOK's on more than a bit of a roll - a good time to step back.

"I"ll hang on to a couple of things and mentor while needed," she added.

Ms Vass joined the organisation in 2000 and became president in 2002.

Before the koalas

Lorraine Vass was the first professional librarian appointed at Coffs Harbour Library in 1977.

Her charismatic personality and her professionalism not only helped her promote the library within the community but her professional relations with the local media helped her win a national library promotion award for her TV segment on the Wayne Magee Show.

In 2015, Ms Vass received the Sustainable Environment award at the Australia Day Awards ceremony in Lismore.

"Lorraine is an exceptional leader and supports the many volunteers while forging productive relationships with local and national bodies, developing policies, lobbying decision makers and spreading the 'Save the Koalas' message," the citacion for the award said.

Ms Vass is also a regular visitor to the Lismore Carboot Markets, where she sometimes wear a koala suit to help with fundraising.


Friends of the Koala is a local organisation working to conserving koalas and preserving and enhancing their habitat, particularly on the Northern Rivers.

Created 30 years ago, FOK currently maintains a 24/7 Rescue Hotline, operates a regional Koala Care Centre in East Lismore, and rescues, treats and cares for koalas to then release them back into the wild when they've recovered.

They also distribute koala food trees for planting by landowners, work with local government to develop and implement Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management and enhance koala habitat, and provide advice to landowners on extending koala habitat.

With a volunteer base of about 130 people, by 2016 FOK had distributed around 134,000 koala food trees across the Northern Rivers, brought into care nearly 4,500 koalas (releasing over 1,000 back into the wild), educated people about caring for and living with koalas, written countless submissions on matters related to koala well-being, participated in numerous research projects and worked with a wide range of diverse partners to ensure the koala's survival in our region.