Wallaby Jirri bounces back thanks to Central Coast parole officers

A male swamp wallaby that survived a car accident has hopped off to freedom in the Central Coast bushland after being fostered for 12 months by a husband and wife team from Corrective Services NSW.

Community Corrections unit leaders Katrina Irving and Mark O’Neill recently said goodbye to the marsupial they named ‘Jirri’, who was lucky to survive after being thrown from his mother’s pouch.

“Jirri was found with broken legs on the side of the road and his mother unfortunately died at the scene,” Mr O’Neill said.

“He’s come so far since then and it’s amazingly fortunate that a driver stopped to pick him up and take him to a vet, who was willing to set and splint his fractures before he came to us for his rehabilitation.

“It was a bittersweet moment to see him go. You do become attached to the animals but it’s such a rewarding experience to see them bounce back.”

The couple has been rescuing abandoned animals for seven years and became qualified volunteer wildlife carers in 2017.

Ms Irving said they’ve been able to help a variety of injured and sick animals including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums and birds.

“Mark and I have always had a passion to help the community in some way and after stumbling across a sick wombat near our home, we knew we wanted to focus on helping wildlife,” Ms Irving said.

“While my job working with offenders is rewarding, it can be challenging at times and coming home to your animal ‘babies’ does help relax my mind.”

Wyong Community Corrections Manager Michele Jordan said the couple are an inspiration to their colleagues.

“Katrina and Mark do an important job supervising offenders on a daily basis. For them to then go home and rehabilitate wildlife is truly heartening,” Ms Jordan said.

The pair has recently qualified as volunteer firefighters with NSW Rural Fire Service after seeing the loss of wildlife and their habitats during last summer’s bushfires.

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