Karabi boys build new homes for brushtails

Twenty new homes for western Sydney’s injured or displaced brushtail possums have been built by four boys from Constitution Hill with help from the Parramatta Men’s Shed.

Beaumont Hills resident and Parramatta Men's Shed co-founder Kerry Boyce with budding wood-craftsman Trai Waddell, of Constitution Hill. Picture: Vanessa Watson.

Beaumont Hills resident and Parramatta Men's Shed co-founder Kerry Boyce with budding wood-craftsman Trai Waddell, of Constitution Hill. Picture: Vanessa Watson.

Boys from the Karabi youth centre at Constitution Hill teamed up with men’s shed volunteers during the recent school holidays to construct the boxes, which will be used by WIRES to rehome brushtail possums who need to be rehomed from places like residential roofs.

Anthony Hookey, 13, of Constitution Hill, said he enjoyed ‘‘everything’’ about the project, including learning some woodwork skills and helping animals.

‘‘I’ve been taught by my nan to take care of creatures, if there’s one hurt she rings the council,’’ Anthony said. ‘‘Thank you so much to the Men’s Shed, they helped me out heaps, and my friends.’’

Trai Waddell, 15, of Constitution Hill, said the project was ‘‘awesome’’ and involved skills like drilling, sanding and screwing the timber into place.

‘‘The men’s shed gave us hands on experience,’’ Trai said.

Men’s shed member Rob Collis, of Parramatta, was impressed with the boys’ commitment. He said during one workshop, Trai told him that "when you start a job, you’ve got to finish a job".

‘‘I found that quite an astounding statement to come out of a kid that age,’’ Mr Collis said.

A WIRES spokeswoman said the boxes mimic brushtail possums’  traditional home, the naturally occuring hollow, which are diminishing in number.

‘‘A tree has to be over 150 to 200 years old to develop a hollow, and these days we don’t have many trees that age,’’ the spokeswoman said. ‘‘And if we do, there are a lot of possums fighting for the territory.’’

Project funds were provided through a $1500 Youth Week grant and a small contribution from Parramatta council.

Old Toongabbie WIRES volunteer Deborah Martin said the boxes would soon be installed at various locations in Parramatta, The Hills, and Blacktown districts.

‘‘We’re always short of funds and short of equipment so it was great to get the grant and have the guys build them for us. We’ve already sent a couple out towards Blacktown to use at Nurrangingy Reserve at Doonside,’’ Ms Martin said.

Karabi youth worker Moira Herbert said the boys all volunteered for the project.

‘‘The thought process behind this project was to put young men in contact with men of a different generation, increase social skills and give them a level of understanding that they might not have had before,’’ she said.

WIRES tips on how to safely remove a possum from your roof:

1. Provide an alternative home for the possum like a possum box.

2. If possible, get inside your roof and locate the nest. The nest, which has the possums’ scent, should be placed in the possum box.

3. Secure the possum box to a tree in or near your yard. Place it at least 4 metres high so the possum will be out of cats and dogs.

4. To encourage the possum into its new home, put half an apple in or near the possum box.

5. Remove the possums’ access to your roof, for example by trimming overhanging branches.

6. If this fails, the possum may need to be trapped. Possums are protected fauna in NSW and catching possums without a license is illegal in NSW. Contact WIRES and we will refer you to a licensed possum removalist. 

Details: wires.org.au

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