Monday, 20 November 2023

Reception for the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species

Rod and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House to celebrate 30 years of the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species work to save flora and fauna from extinction.

Thirty years of commitment, 30 years of collaboration and 30 years of significant conservation outcomes.

As Australians, we are proud to live in a country that is home to such incredible biodiversity.

After Indonesia, we have the largest number of endemic species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, a legacy of being an isolated island Continent for thousands of years.

Other countries, such as Colombia, have a greater number of species overall but, in terms of unique wildlife, Australia is nearly at the top.

As we are aware, this biodiversity is under considerable threat.

Australia has formally acknowledged the extinction of more than 100 native species since European settlement, although the true number is potentially much higher.

This includes lost 34 mammals - about the same number as the rest of the world combined over the past 200 years.

Species until recently thought to be safe – such as the bogong moth, gang gang cockatoos, and even the iconic koala – are being added to the global and national threatened species lists following drought, catastrophic fires, and habitat destruction.

Within this challenging context, individuals, and organisations through Australia, and across multiple sectors, are stepping forward to do what they can to halt, and even reverse, the loss.

For three decades, FAME has worked at the forefront of species recovery, working to counteract the impacts of climate change, introduced predators such as foxes and cats, pollution, habitat destruction, and urban development.

Your Chairman Chris Chapman kindly provided me with a list of 11 projects that have made a real difference, a measurable difference over the past 30 years.

Among them:

  • The introduction of the extinct species Western-Quoll and Brush tailed possum back into Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park. Now some 500 quolls are roaming around the ranges.
  • Establishing at Yookamurra Sanctuary a colony of endangered Boodies (Burrowing Bettongs), previously extinct in South Australia.
  • Funding a protected breeding area for the endangered Bush-stone Curlew in south-eastern South Australia.

As you are well aware, education and awareness are building blocks for action and FAME has often taken on projects that are outside the box.

One of FAME’s founding members, Dr John Walmsley OAM, alongside his conservation work did much to highlight the role of feral cats in native species predation. He was a media star for all the right reasons.

Who can forget the photograph of him in a hat made from the pelts of feral cats? It certainly provoked discussion about the impact of feral animals on our wildlife. And it led to change.

One of the strengths of FAME’s work is its recognition that native animals and plants are inextricably connected and that a holistic view of the environment is needed.

Another strength is FAME’s approach of building partnerships with researchers, government, and other environmental groups to achieve more.

In our own small way, Rod and I are hoping to encourage greater environmental awareness through our roles.

Rod, as Patron of the Scientific Expeditionary Group recently took part in a survey at a site on the Fleurieu observing bandicoots and marsupial rats.

Together, we have also been working with Kaurna peole with a view to begin to rewild a small part of the northern garden to increase the presence of native flora and fauna in our grounds.


Sharing FAME’s mission are the wonderful supporters who help fund its work. You are the lifeblood that enables the organisation to focus on its projects.

Whether your support has been throughout the past 30 years, or more recently, Rod and I thank you for your generosity.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for raising awareness, thank you for taking action.

Because, like you, we share the hope that future generations can see Australia’s precious native species in the wild and not in a museum.

Congratulations on FAME’s 30th Anniversary.

We wish you well in your vital work for the next 30 years and beyond.

Coming events