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Certificate III in Native animal rehabilitation

Certificate III in Native animal rehabilitation: a course for wildlife carers

Renee Chamberlain, Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE

NOTE (December 2011): please go to and follow links to rehabilitation of birds or mammals


The Training package for the old course has been reviewed and MSIT has replaced the old Certificate III in Native animal rehabilitation with a new Certificate III in Animal studies which focuses on wildlife.  The course details can be found here.

We are also currently offering a Certificate II in (general) animal studies which covers the broader animal care industry including domestic animal care.  For information on the Cert II click here.


The Certificate III in Native Animal Rehabilitation has been taught since 2005 in the Environmental studies area of what was then Moreton TAFE. The new Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (MSIT) was formed in 2006 from an amalgamation of Moreton, Logan and Yeronga Institutes of TAFE. This course and its implementation though, has remained the same.

The Environmental Studies team are passionate in their specialist areas (which include animal conservation, husbandry and health, water quality, weed management, habitat restoration) and have extensive industry experience. The team delivers in 2 different course areas: Conservation and Land Management and Native Animal Rehabilitation.

Conservation and land management (CaLM for short) is a vocational course for those seeking a career in conserving wildlife and natural resources. To prepare students for this career path we deliver skills and knowledge in a range of areas including weed management, revegetation, water quality and cultural heritage, and also specific wildlife based subjects.

CaLM is offered at three levels – each one is specific to a career outcome. The Certificate III course trains one for entry-level positions in the environment industry. The Certificate IV & Diploma levels provide skills & knowledge in supervising, planning & managing the work, but there is still plenty of hands on training involved. Much of the training & assessment for all three levels is field and practical-based.

Some of the real projects our CaLM students have been involved in include noxious weed & pest removal from conservation areas and a variety of revegetation projects: e.g. prockly pear removal from King Island, cane toad trapping in Brisbane Koala Bushlands, revegetation of Birkdale Bushland Refuge. The removal cane toads from a conservation area bordering Leslie Harrison Dam has been particularly exciting as very little work has been done on removing cane toads in south east QLD & Brisbane City Council has been very supportive.

There are a wide variety of career outcomes from these courses, and some of our previous CaLM students are currently working in organisations such as: QPWS, Redland shire council, Queensland museum, Greening Australia, and Wildlife Warriors Worldwide. Career opportunities include park ranger, conservation officer, interpretation officer, wildlife oifficer, council bushcare officer, volunteer coordinator

The Certificate III in Native Animal Rehabilitation is a course that was specifically designed for volunteer wildlife carers and so is husbandry based. It was actually the brainchild of a colleague whose passion is plants but who also recognised the very special role carers play in animal welfare and conservation.

The course was formed in consultation with QPWS and RSPCA and is adapted from 2 different training packages which are competency-based: the Conservation and Land Management Training Package (mentioned earlier) and the Animal Care and Management training package which relates to all facets of the animal industry including zoos, domestic animal services and the veterinary sector.

The training package provides the framework for what is taught and assessed. The teachers then customise how we teach & assess the courses including adapting the content specifically to wildlife care and rehabilitation.

The original intention of the Certificate III in Native Animal Rehabilitation was to give wildlife carers recognition for the job they do by way of a formal qualification. In addition, it assists in improving standards of care by teaching the Queensland’s Code of Practice for the Care and Rehabilitation of Sick, Injured and Orphaned Animals by Wildlife Care Volunteers.

The course gives students a grounding in all aspects of wildlife care from the initial rescue through to the final release & and post release monitoring. So, both new and experienced carers gain new skills and knowledge from completing the Certificate III in Native Animal Rehabilitation.

There are 16 subjects in total, including vocational placement. Animal husbandry and health issues are covered as well as conservation issues. This is done in a logical manner by grouping related subjects into clusters e.g. husbandry (animal handling, diets, feeding) and regulatory (legislation, OHS, communication, correct animal ID).

During the vocational placement, students volunteer in wildlife facilities (such as Australia Zoo), the RSPCA or vet surgeries where wildlife is regularly treated, to gain more hands on experience with a variety of species.

There are also subjects to assist carers with plant identification (for feeding herbivorous animals) and habitat remediation (to enhance release sites through maintenance such as tree planting).

The emphasis is on empowering students by providing them with skills, so much of the learning and assessment is very practical.

The library has an extensive and constantly growing collection of quality resources (including books, videos, DVD’s, CD Roms) specifically relating to wildlife care. Students engage in self-directed project learning using these resources. We also examine real and fictional case studies so students gain experience in how skills and knowledge are applied in real situations.

Guest speakers are a popular diversion from the usual teachers e.g. Martin from “Geckos” wildlife shows demonstrates animal identification and handling skills. Field trips visit wildlife care facilities (e.g. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Moggill Koala Hospital, Dreamworld) and natural wildlife habitats are also an important part of the course.

The Cert III in Native Animal Rehabiliation is currently offered in 2 study modes. The internal option runs for 3 days per week for one year but still meets the requirements of a full time study load for Austudy purposes.

There is also a distance study option where students complete the course in blocks of 3 or 4 subjects, using workbooks and study plans specially designed for distance learning with online support from their teacher. Once they have completed the first set of subjects, they move on to the next set, and so on taking 24 months to complete the course.

Students have access to a dedicated distance education teacher at specified times via phone, fax and email to assist with their study and answer questions. Written assessments are sent in via mail, fax or email. Practical skill assessments are conducted during the vocational placement.

Though this is strictly a non-vocational course, some of our previous NAR students have gone on to work at various organisations including Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, RSPCA and QPWS either as paid employees or long term volunteers.

If you would like to know more about the courses you can download a full fact sheet at the MSIT website.

Using the “Find a course” search box, type the word “animal” for information on the Certificate III in Native Animal Rehabilitation, or type the word “conservation” for a fact sheet on the Conservation and Land Management courses.

To enrol, call our client service centre on 1300 657 613.

Please note that the distance course is popular and does not have fixed intakes. The CSC will place you on a waiting ist and you will be contacted when the next class has spaces available.