President's Speech

Gecko is not an organisation with an individual directive and personality. The personality of Gecko is at all times a collaboration and representation of all of the various visions and goals of its members and volunteers. This is the heart of Gecko, and it beats powerfully to direct change on the Gold Coast.

The last twelve months has been no exception to the rule of collaborative representation of the visions of many individuals. Some very passionate people gave an adrenaline shot to the heart of Gecko this year, while others provided consistent life blood. This leaves us with a very healthy and happy “Gecko” which is effective in spreading its message of “environment”.

I’m going to speed one by one through the many different portfolios within Gecko, which all serve a different need within the community.

Human Resources

Human Resources is the very heart of operations here at Gecko. Jennifer Wilkinson-Dixon had been providing us with a regular flow of high quality volunteers, until a health scare resulted in her recent retirement. Anne Wasley has been taking up the reins since Jen left, and is absolutely swamped with work. This year has seen over 70 new volunteers come into the Gecko family. Janet Mannix has been invaluable help in managing the volunteer database.

Anne Wasley has also started up social evenings for our volunteers, and we had our first one on the 15th of August. We look forward to many more times in which to spend time with eachother in a social setting.

We have a new support officer position at Gecko, which is ably filled by Elli Webb. Since I have now moved onto another job, Elli has assisted with organisation of volunteers and general office support. She has been invaluable in assisting the management committee to ensure that tasks are completed.

This year has seen the engagement of Vicky Breedyk as a much needed IT Consultant for our needs. NMG have done an evaluation of the current system and we are undergoing recommended changes. It has been a pleasant change with the office not going from one computing disaster to another.


Administration is the lifeblood which runs through every section of the organisation and this portfolio is managed by Lealer Woodgate. We rely on our amazing administration staff to man the phones, answer the emails, and basically, keep the whole office running. The A-team has seen so many wonderful people come and go over the past year, people who’ve enjoyed their training, learning from the experiences of the regular front desk staff. The office relies heavily on the organisational talents of Sheila Tierney to hold them all together. Great thanks must be given to the “Front Desk Regulars” – Ros Bannerman, Rain Waugh, Anna Bridle, and Petra Hatu.

We hire out this hall in order to make some money to keep the Gecko office running. Johanne Green has coordinated this brilliantly, with every year seeing a growth in hall hire, and Lesley Gillard has been a great help to her in updating all of our documents, making us even more effective.

It takes a lot of money to run an organisation of the size of Gecko. Simone Gillespie has served as Gecko Treasurer and headed up the Gecko Finance portfolio for yet another year with the assistance of Darren Hearse. This year saw a net profit for Gecko of approximately $49,000, due in no small part to income from Regen Australia of nearly $30,000 and hall hire income of over $20,000. Donations have valued over $15,000, with $5000 from Max Fabre and $5000 from Brian Richards.


Allan Rudd has been a key driving force for Fundraising at Gecko in 2015. You can now become a Gecko Friend for only $8.95 or $14.95 per month. This will support Gecko in all of our activities and ensure that we can survive fluctuating government funding.


The Grants Team led by Jason Hughes as Coordinator, consists of Dereka Ogden, Alan Silvander and Lois Levy with recent addition Margaret Potter.

The team has worked diligently to source and apply for grants. The competition for grants funds by not for profit organisations is fierce and most grants are directed at social welfare objectives. The number of grants for environment objectives other than direct work involving revegetation is shrinking. Of the 21 applied for, 7 have been successful, 7 are awaiting a response and 8 have been unsuccessful.


Onto Housecare All who visit and volunteer for Gecko, cannot fail to be impressed with the appearance of not only Gecko House, but also Gecko’s garden has been transformed into a Learnscape of native plants with a frog pond recently installed. Maca McDermott has been invaluable in managing the logistical side of Housecare, while our super-athelete Anne Wasley has managed the many administrative needs. Thanks also to Travis who helps Maca with the various weekly and monthly tasks. We would also like to thank Susanne Carter and Sue Partridge for their efforts over the past year.


What a year for the Gecko Communications team! The voice of the organisation has changed somewhat this year but is speaking loud and clear. The transformation of LeafTales to Hills to Headlands is an incredible success which we attribute to Sarah, Deb, Eric, Aidan, Anthony and all of our wonderful contributors. Hills to Headlands will thrive with the right team behind it.

The website continues to be the main face of Gecko and is where most communications drive people to interact with us. Vicky Breedyk and Anthony Latham continue to do an amazing job behind the scenes to keep our websites functioning and relevant. Anthony has also kept up great work with our EcoTourismGC website.

Cate Ware has been a steadying influence in her continued work on Gecko Out and About, and Christian Perrin has done well producing a monthly Earth Alert email, full of interesting information.

We recently farewelled Alinta Krauth as our social media administrator. Her expertise and dedication has attracted over 3000 people to follow our FB page. Luckily for us, Renay Wells has taken on the role and has been working to keep our Facebook and Twitter pages alive and engaging.


GeckoEd has had another busy and successful year, under the coordination of Dereka Ogden. Some of their activities include:

  • Programs for Bedok North Secondary School from Singapore, King’s Christian
  • College at Mt. Cougall, Lindisfarne School and Year 12 at Springbrook
  • EcoDiscoverers ran in January, April, June/July and October
  • Dereka gave a talk at St. Andrews Lutheran College on what is going on re environmental matters and what we can do.
  • As GeckoEd’s ran a special EcoDiscoverers’ program at The Alley for Gold Coast Green Week
  • GeckoEd attended the Science and Tech Festival at the Botanic Gardens. This took the form of bird walks for children.
  • In September Coomera Anglican College came to Gecko to do their yearly community service. We have had them coming for many years. Last year the Year 9 planted another bed for our Learnscape, the one with the frog pond in it. This year they made a new native species garden in the Gecko grounds.

A big thank you all of the educational volunteers who help deliver such high quality environmental education to our children.

Gecko Events

Gecko Events has delivered a great program of events as part of its outreach goals again last year, under the guidance of Anna Itkonen. We finished 2014 with a celebration of our environmental heroes at Gecko’s 18th annual environmental awards night. This night is always a wonderful example of great volunteer work who all deserve a big, heartfelt thank you.

The next big event Gecko hosted was the Clean Up Australia Day in the beginning of March and what a wonderful community effort it was. Gold Coast should be proud of its community involvement.

2015 has welcomed a couple of new Guest Speaker Night coordinators. Currently we have the lovely Kellie Smith coordinating the event and it has been an absolute pleasure to have her on board after all the changes and ups and downs. We must extend a huge thank you to Debbie Overall and her husband Eric for stepping in when we needed them most. We look forward to having Lina Thomas back in the New Year. It was a pleasure to work with the many volunteers who came and went over the year.

We are in the process of putting together a wonderful Awards Night on the 14 November and Campaigns is the lady to thank on the night.

We need to thank the absolutely wonderful and already irreplacable Sheila Tierney for taking on the role of events PA and enabling Anna Itkonen to keep the events portfolio, whilst managing two little children.

Gold Coast Green Week

Gold Coast Green Week was organised by Gecko, for the fourth year. The festival continues to grow in size each year, with over 150 events being held over 9 days this year. The university students’ fight for an opportunity to work on this, and three lucky interns managed to get the opportunity to work of this fun and rewarding project. The Gecko Wildlife Expo was held at Tugun Community Centre and was well attended.

Movers and Shakers

Movers and Shakers was a new creation for Gecko in 2015. It involved inviting the most actively involved environmentalists to our get-togethers every second month, where we have an opportunity to help our fellow activists in their projects, share our own projects, and catch up with old friends. We want there to be a sharing of the skills and resources of all of the environmental groups, so as to strengthen eachother, as success for another group is success for the Gold Coast Environment. In this spirit, we have been happy to welcome Surfrider Foundation into our office space and Greg Howell has been a positive addition to the workspace.


Tarrabora Reserve BushCare group, led by Gina Ygoa, continues to thrive – the place is looking great, weeds are under control. They’re expanding their energies across the lagoon to the Palm Beach sand Spit. They’re on facebook – take a look, and interpretative signs will finally be installed in the near future.”

Elanora Wetlands is our third Bushcare group and is ably managed by Tom Fletcher. They have had a good year with three plantings (one with a 100% success rate), as well as being visited and filmed by Totally Wild earlier in the year.

Nicoll Scrub is a small Bushcare group headed up by Rose Adams and presents a real challenge with its somewhat remote location in Currumbin Valley and difficulties of access. If you have thought about joining Bushcare, then they could really use your help.


Apart from Bushcare, Rose Adams also manages the Representation portfolio. Gecko has had a number of opportunities this year for members to represent our organisation in discussion with the community, Government agencies and State and federal Government.

Lois Levy and Rose Adams attended a wide variety of such events, with State Government Ministers at three Round Table occasions, two representations at federal inquiries- the Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government and the House of Representatives Inquiry into Tax Deductibility Status for Not For Profit Environmental Organisations. These two occasions gave Gecko an important “voice” to argue both for better environmental legislations as well as to present the importance of groups such as Gecko to continue their work to protect the environment unhindered by petty political influence.

Fruitful discussions have also been held with GC Waterways Authority on a variety of matters. As well, Gecko members have attended Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfasts, meetings with GC City Councillors, The GC Airport Community Consultative Committee, SEQ Catchments and SEQ Water. Getting involved with the community also includes presentations to university classes, collaborating with other environmental organisations, such as Save Our Spit and Save Our Broadwater, meeting with the development industry to discuss projects and participating in special purpose groups, such as Friends of Currumbin Walks Committee and Tugun Cobaki Alliance.


The Gecko Campaigns Team consists of Lois Levy, Coordinator, Rose Adams, Ceris Ash, Renay Wells, Brian Feeney, Kellie Smith, Sheila Davis, Debbie Overell, Sally Spain, Lyn Ogden, and NSW colleagues Richard Murray and Ole Lynsted. Several people have also joined in for short periods and several student interns have been most welcome.

The Team has had a very busy year with major campaigns and numerous smaller issues to respond to as well a change in State Government in January 2015. The amount of work the Team tackles is astounding and a testament to the commitment of all Team members.

Gecko has had a major success with the “Save the Broadwater” campaign to stop the cruise terminal and resort development of Wavebreak Island. This campaign required a huge amount of consistent work including a major rally, a “Meet the Candidates” night and very active lobbying during the State election.

The Team wrote 11 major submissions and innumerable letters to all three levels of Government on a wide range of issues.

Most of the major campaign issues are ongoing and will continue to occupy the Team’s efforts into the next year these include:-

  • Permanent protection for the reserves of the Broadwater.
  • Protection of public open spaces from inappropriate activities and development, especially those with high conservation value.
  • Climate Change community education and action including a Conference in partnership with Griffith University in July 2106
  • Protection of national parks especially Springbrook National Park from inappropriate activities and development proposals.
  • Planning issues relating to development in the city
  • Improved koala protection
  • Support for the Cash for Containers recycling and litter reduction campaign
  • Development of policies and questions for candidates in both Council and Federal elections in 2016.
  • Building on the success of the Movers and Shakers gatherings with our colleagues
  • Involvement in the Queensland Conservation Council Round Table discussions with State Government Ministers on a range of environmental issues.

It’s all pretty impressive, isn’t it? Until I had to try to put all of our activities into a short ten minute speech, I wasn’t really aware of just how active we have been.

There has been a huge variety of tasks completed throughout the year. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to thank every person by name. With over 200 volunteers now, there just wouldn’t be the time. Please know that you have played a huge part in making all this happen and you should can feel very proud to be a part of such an energetic and vibrant organisation.