Newcastle Community Corrections staff and offenders are helping build habitats for threatened species including the green and golden bell frog, magpie goose and Australasian bittern.
Manager Carmen Wells said their Community Service Work crew had teamed up with the Hunter Wetlands Centre to reinvigorate and maintain vital ecosystems for the endangered wildlife.
“Our team has been tasked with beautifying the grounds, maintaining pathways and creating and conserving habitats for the variety of threatened species that call the wetlands home,” Ms Wells said.
“The site is a popular spot for bird watchers, with more than 200 bird species frequenting the wetlands and about 30 species using it as a breeding ground.
“The work is practical and rewarding for the offenders because the results are very tangible – they’re able to see the real difference they make to the health of the wetlands and achieve a sense of pride knowing they’re helping their community and the wildlife.”
About 20 offenders work at the site each week, removing weeds and undergrowth, and mowing and maintaining walkways under the supervision of a Community Corrections field officer.
Hunter Wetlands Centre CEO Kenneth Bayliss said the organisation wouldn’t be able to maintain the wetlands without the help of the Community Service Work team.
“The team take on the mowing and ground maintenance that our older volunteers are too old to do - they can do more work in two days than we can do in a week,” Mr Bayliss said.
“They have a great focus on getting the work done and a very professional approach, taking ownership of the community wetlands.
“Without them, we would not be able to maintain the site.”
The wetlands, located north-east of Newcastle, was an unofficial dumping ground for many years before the community reclaimed and revitalised the area.
Its estuary feeds into the south channel of the Hunter River, which flows from the Newcastle Harbour all through the Hunter Region.