Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland) (19:42:12): Countless winged, furred and feathered creatures have been killed during our recent bushfire crisis. Many others are still fighting for their lives. Koalas, kangaroos, possums, sugar gliders and even our iconic platypus have fallen victim to flames in what has become an outright environmental tragedy.

I acknowledge Spotlight Rutherford, Maitland Yarners co-ordinator Tracy Bean and her team of volunteers who have collaborated to sew mittens, pouches, nests and bat wings for these tiny, traumatised survivors. The idea began when Spotlight staff were searching for a way to help injured animals.

Coincidentally, Tracy reached out to the store at the same time. Spotlight set up the sewing machines and Tracy canvassed for volunteers. More than 100 people turned up to lend a hand. The group has attracted volunteers from as far afield as Sydney and people from overseas have contacted it with offers of support. The group has generated hundreds of items so far, but the expectation is that our wildlife carers will need the purpose-made items for many months to come.

I thank and commend Spotlight and the Maitland Yarners Group.