Becoming a wildlife rehabilitator

Wildlife Shelter Operator Authorisations are for experienced wildlife carers who have the expertise and facilities to house a range of wildlife in need of care, including those with complex requirements.

Foster Carer Authorisations are for those who wish to learn wildlife rehabilitation. Foster Carers are authorised under Wildlife Shelter Operators so that people new to wildlife rehabilitation can gain experience and guidance in the care and treatment of native wildlife.

Wildlife rehabilitation is rewarding, but can be physically and emotionally demanding. It requires a range of skills such as:

  • safely capturing and handling distressed wildlife
  • administering first-aid and, in exceptional circumstances, performing euthanasia
  • providing appropriate food and enclosures.

All this must be done in a way that doesn't stress the animals and maintains their natural behaviours to allow a successful life in the wild after release.

If you are interested in wildlife rehabilitation, DELWP recommends that you volunteer with an experienced authorised shelter prior to applying for a Foster Carer Authorisation. Contact one of the rehabilitation organisations listed in Sick, injured and orphaned wildlife if you are interested in volunteering your services.

Application forms:

Foster Carer (PDF, 298.6 KB)
Foster Carer (DOCX, 66.6 KB)

Wildlife Shelter (PDF, 346.1 KB)
Wildlife Shelter (DOCX, 73.7 KB)

Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carers Authorisation Guide

Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisations are subject to  strict conditions to protect the welfare of wildlife undergoing rehabilitation.

The updated  Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisation Guide was first prepared in 2015 by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in consultation with the animal welfare unit within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), RSPCA, Zoos Victoria, veterinarians and representatives from the wildlife rehabilitation community.

Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisation Guide 2019-20 (PDF, 679.0 KB)
Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisation Guide 2019-20 (DOCX, 488.1 KB)

Feedback on the guide can be provided to:

Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants

The Victorian Government values the work and achievements of Victoria's volunteer wildlife rehabilitators, and through the Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants Program provides funding to increase standards of wildlife care.

Grant information and availability

Wildlife shelter records

An important aspect of wildlife rehabilitation is the keeping of accurate records of all wildlife in care. It is a condition of all Wildlife Shelter Authorisations that operators keep accurate and up-to-date records of wildlife admissions, including those being cared for by foster carers.

Records provide valuable case history and are an important resource for other rehabilitators. Record statistics can also be used to determine why animals are brought to shelters, the species involved, where they came from and the outcomes of rehabilitation. They also help to ensure animals don't enter the trade system and are not used for illegal purposes.

Wildlife Shelter Record Sheet (DOC, 259.5 KB)

Wildlife Code Book (DOC, 370.0 KB)

Species Code (DOC, 54.5 KB)

If you would like to complete records electronically, please use the following template.

Electronic Wildlife Shelter Record Sheet template (Excel, 396.0 KB)

Keeping Record Sheets

It is no longer a requirement to submit records annually to DELWP. Instead, it is a condition of your authorisation that the records are kept for a three year period and must be made available for inspection by a DELWP Wildlife Officer without delay.

Should you require further information, please contact our Customer Contact Centre on 136 186 or your local DELWP office.

Instructions on completing your record sheet

The following table explains the information to be entered in each box on the record sheet. Refer also to the attached Wildlife Code Book and the Species Code above when completing your record sheet.

Case NumberEnter consecutive numbers to give each admission an identifying case number. You may choose to use the year and a three digit number, e.g. 16/001. This is up to you.
Common NameEvery animal should be identified by both its accepted common name as provided in the Wildlife Code Book and the Species code. If however, despite your best efforts at identification you are still unsure of full species name use ‘sp’, e.g. small bat sp. or wattlebird sp. and leave the Species Code blank.
Species CodeEnter the species code as provided in the Wildlife Code Book, e.g. 142.
Date InEnter the date the animal was admitted to the shelter, e.g. 12/3/16.
SexWhere possible, identify the sex of the animal and enter a code (M = Male or F = Female). If unable to determine the sex of the animal, use the code U.
AgeThere are separate age codes for birds, mammals,  reptiles and amphibians (see code sheet). Use only one of the age class codes provided (single letter code). If the animal has young, record only the age of the parent animal.
InjuryUse only one of the codes which best describes the major injury that the animal has sustained. If an animal is presented with more than one type of injury, use a single letter code which represents the most serious injury (see code sheet).
CauseThis code describes what has caused the injury. Use the code which most clearly describes the cause of the injuries to the best of your knowledge. Use only one of the double letter codes (see code sheet).
FoundIt is important to record the location of where the animal was found. Include GPS coordinates or a Melways map reference number where possible so that the animal can be released where it was found.
Date outEnter the date the animal was released from the shelter or the date of death, e.g. 12/3/16.
StatusThis code indicates the fate of the animal. These codes are grouped into three broad categories – died, transferred or released. Depending on the nature of disposal, use the code that best describes the fate of the individual. Do not complete the disposals section of your record sheet for animals being held by your foster-carers until the animal has been permanently disposed of as detailed above. Use only one double letter code (see code sheet).
NotesFor animals released to the wild, information describing and detailing the release location (including the postcode) should be entered into this section.

Page last updated: 02/09/19