Koala campaign reaches new heights in South East Qld

A successful social marketing campaign led by Griffith University to help save koalas from preventable deaths and injuries is set to expand.

Piloted by the Redland City Council in 2017 the Leave It dog training program co-designed by Social Marketing @ Griffith (SM@G) researchers has reduced koala deaths from dog attacks in the area by 40 per cent.

Funding provided by the Department of Environment and Science will be used to design and deliver a Coordinated Koala Awareness Campaign and Threat Management Initiative to support the SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 in partnership with SEQ local governments.

Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele is the founding director of Social Marketing @ Griffith.

SM@G Director and lead researcher Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele says the next 12-month project will take a broader approach.

“We will work with LGAs to deliver a series of agreed engagement and threat mitigation activities from increasing the proportion of dogs that are trained to avoid koalas to encouraging drivers to slow down in areas where koalas are present,” she said.

“Our team will also conduct a tracking study to document community progress of initiatives already implemented in LGAs.

“We will also survey people to find out what they’re already doing, and our hope is to see an increase over time in those positive actions across SEQ.”

The first community koala survey is now open: griffith.edu.au/koala-survey

Professor Rundle-Thiele said koalas in SEQ faced a range of threats to their wellbeing that can be prevented.

“Last year there were 476 hospitalisations of koalas, and we know that vehicle strikes and dog attacks are some of the main reasons for that number,” she said.

“In our experience, co-designing a solution that the community embraces is the most effective way that people can help to make changes to protect koalas.”

The Leave It campaign will be officially launched with the return of the popular ‘DogFest’, a series of face-to-paw events celebrating dog owners and their furry friends later in the year.