Obtaining a licence

The Department of Planning and Environment regulates wildlife rehabilitation to ensure services are available, reliable and applied in accordance with best practice.

Unless you are a registered veterinarian, you require a Biodiversity Conservation Licence granted under the BC Act to possess a sick, injured or orphaned protected animal for rehabilitation purposes.

In New South Wales, services are delivered mainly by wildlife rehabilitation groups, with volunteer members providing care from their homes or centre-based facilities. These groups and facilities provide the training, mentoring and supervision needed to support volunteers in applying our standards.

Animal display establishments such as Taronga and Western Plains Zoo also provide crucial support through their wildlife hospital, pathology and animal rehabilitation facilities.

Some licensed wildlife rehabilitation providers specialise in certain species, such as koalas, flying foxes or marine wildlife, whereas others cover a wide range of species.

All participants in wildlife rehabilitation must meet the quality assurance standards listed in our Rehabilitation of Protected Animals Policy. This will guarantee a consistent level of excellence in volunteer management and animal welfare outcomes across New South Wales.

Persons considering applying for a licence should first read our Rehabilitation of Protected Animals Policy which will outline who can conduct wildlife rehabilitation in New South Wales, the type of activities you can undertake and what is needed to meet our requirements. Our objective is to have a small number of well-managed, well-trained and collaborative network of wildlife rehabilitation providers that provide high standards of care to the protected animals they are permitted to rehabilitate.

Managing conflict in the wildlife rehabilitation sector

Conflict is a normal part of life and of working with others and is likely to affect everyone at some time. For example, conflict may arise because of a difference in interpretation of guidelines, standards, rules or facts, or a disagreement about personal performance or views. Sometimes, it may also involve inappropriate behaviours like bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Dealing with conflict can be uncomfortable and stressful. If allowed to escalate it can be very destructive to people and organisations involved. For a wildlife rehabilitation group, conflict can affect its reputation in the community and result in volunteer burnout, loss of members and negatively impact the operation of the organisation itself.

The department does not have the authority under the Biodiversity Conservation Act to resolve conflicts in wildlife rehabilitation groups. Neither does it arbitrate such matters. Instead, we have focussed on developing resources and tools to enable groups to deal with conflict if it arises. We want to ensure everyone in the wildlife rehabilitation sector has access to the right tools for managing conflict within their organisations. So, in collaboration with Justice Connect we have developed a conflict management toolkit and conflict of interest policy for the wildlife rehabilitation sector in New South Wales.. The toolkit includes a package of resources to help wildlife rehabilitation organisations avoid and manage internal conflict including:

  • strategies for preventing, identifying and managing conflict
  • governance considerations for committees dealing with conflict
  • bullying sexual harassment and discrimination policy
  • codes of conduct for committees and volunteers and a
  • complaint form.

The conflict management toolkit should become an essential part of each wildlife rehabilitation organisations governance policy and procedures.

If groups are unable to resolve conflict using these tools they may need to seek the assistance of independent mediation, for example, from a Community Justice Centre or contact the NSW Fair Trading or Australian Charities and not-for-profit Commission if appropriate. Unresolved matters may require independent legal advice.

The development of these resources is an action in our Volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitation Sector Strategy and a recommendation of the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel.


Yellow eastern bearded dragon (Pogona barbata)