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Byron Shire
May 19, 2024

Turtles and homeless to benefit from inGrained

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Six local not-for-profits in the Northern Rivers region will share a total of $115,180 that has been raised and distributed by Stone & Wood’s inGrained Foundation.

Byron Bay Community Centre (BBCC), and Agape Outreach, both not for profits (NFP) at the forefront of the homelessness crisis in the region, have received funding.

The BBCC funds will go towards providing the homeless and disadvantaged community with shelter and support in extreme weather events.

Agape Outreach, who run outreach services from Byron Bay to Runaway Bay in Queensland, will be using their grant to facilitate more effective outreach services.

Theresa Mitchell, Founding Director of Agape told The Echo, ‘We’ve been based in Tweed Heads for 12 years, and provide a range of services including providing meals to the homeless, and those experiencing food insecurity. Since COVID-19, we have seen an increase from 400 to 700 meals being handed out, and our active case management clients have increased from 80 to 500. People have lost jobs and many people are looking for food and affordable housing. There are three families who volunteer with us, who themselves have become homeless in the last few months.’

Turtles and koalas

Turtles and koalas have also had a win, with the grant also being shared with Bangalow Koalas who are creating wildlife corridors, and Fingal-based group, Green Heroes.

Sarah Jantos (Green Heroes), Steven Kudzius (Green Heroes), Erin Kudzius (Green Heroes) and Leweena Willimas (CEO Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council)

Green Heroes aims to enable children and families to be active in wildlife conservation, Green Hero Sarah Jantos, told The Echo.

Having seen a turtle lay and bury eggs behind her house in Fingal Head, she called in National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS). However, they were told that because the nest had been laid so late in the season, they were unlikely to survive and hatch.

‘To the surprise of NPWS, one of our Green Heroes, Steven Kudzius, responded saying that he would build an incubator. What they didn’t know is that Steven builds temperature control systems for the medical industry. Within a couple of days, we were able to rescue that nest, and NPWS told us of two other nests we could rescue; one at Fingal and one at Pottsville’.

Nest excavation by NPWS Ranger Emma Goodwin reveals the loggerhead turtle chamber. Photo Kerry Cooper NPWS

Ms Jantos explained that the reason this was so important was because the gender of a turtle is determined by the temperature at which they incubate. At warmer temperatures, the hatchlings will be female, and at cooler temperatures, they will be male.

‘In the northern regions of Australia, like the Great Barrier Reef, climate change is increasing the temperature, and either only females are being hatched or the nests are cooking because they are too hot and making the eggs unviable. What we are able to do with the incubator is to produce male hatchlings.

‘National Parks told us that if we got one successful hatchling, then the project would be a success. We got almost 300 male loggerhead turtle hatchlings!’, she told The Echo excitedly.

Nest excavation incubator designed by Steve Kudzius. Photo Kerry Cooper NPWS

The ingrained funding will allow Green Heroes to build a proper and permanent incubator.

‘This will contribute to the National Marine Turtle Recovery Plan, because we can hatch males, and not just loggerheads, which will make a significant contribution to saving the species.’

Other winners were Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM) and the Youth Mentoring program, Human Nature Adventure Therapy.

Turtle hatchling release at Fingal. Photo Ashi Hilmer

James Perrin from the inGrained Foundation said of this year’s program, ‘First, a big thank you to all of our Northern Rivers grant applicants’.

‘We were stunned by the incredible work that our community organisations are doing to help others and care for this beautiful place we call home.

‘And, of course, a huge congratulations to our successful recipients. We feel confident that these organisations will address the needs of our environment and community as well as support some of the very pressing and immediate concerns in our region such as housing and homelessness.’

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