Singapore's national award winning youth joined the Koala Research
Centre's St Bees Island
koala study in June. The team of ten Chinese, Malaysian and
Indian men and women – all students studying nursing, medicine,
science, business management or chemical engineering - joined Alistair
Melzer and Gail Tucker for ten days of koala catching, radio tracking
and vegetation surveys on St Bees Island near Mackay. The team was sponsored
by HSBC bank to join the Earthwatch Koala Ecology Program.
The youth team had little or no experience of Australian field conditions
and were trained in basic bush craft, field techniques and self reliance.
They were educated about the many spiders that inhabit the houses, the
interesting kitchen running on 12Volts and living in a non-crowded house.
Evening camp fires kept them warm as they suffered a wintry environment,
not experienced by some before (since Singapore is 5O above the equator).
Alistair and Gail also enjoyed the experience learning about international
foods (lots of chili and curries) and other cultures.
Although the visitors were active environmental campaigners in Singapore,
they had no experience of personal water conservation and direct recycling
- all essential for life on a small island. Despite the initial inexperience,
all participants were working as independent field teams within the
first week and the koala ecology project gained an almost complete radio
tracking data set and caught six koalas to replace defective radio collars
and placed collars on three new koalas.
The National Youth Achievement Award Scheme (NYAA) was officially launched
on 9 May 1992 by the President of the Republic of Singapore.
The aim of the NYAA Scheme is to encourage young people between the
ages of 14 and 25 years to develop personal qualities of self-reliance,
perseverance and a sense of responsibility to themselves, society and
The criteria for an award are those of self-improvement and effort.
The participant is judged on personal achievement measured against original
circumstances and potential capabilities. This allows for the less able
and disadvantaged to participate on an equal opportunity The criteria
for an award are those of self-improvement and effort. The participant
is judged on personal achievement measured against original circumstances
and potential capabilities. This allows for the less able and disadvantaged
to participate on an equal opportunity basis.
The NYAA mission is To develop and maximize the potential of young people
through selfless community service, challenges of adventure, skills
development and physical recreation so that they may be exceptional
individuals who can contribute effectively to society and the nation.
It is hoped that NYAA/HSBC participation in the koala study will be
a regular event given the success of this field trip.