Deborah Tabart OAM

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Koala Foundation

Deborah Tabart OAM has been leading the Australian Koala Foundation since 1988 and is recognised around the world as an advocate for koalas, or simply as 'the Koala Woman'. Her passion is palpable and through Koalas she casts her imagination and creative vision towards promoting sustainable land-use, and the regeneration and restoration of environments around the world.

Deborah was given the brief to 'raise funds to save the Koala'. She soon realised it was not as simple as that. She began a steep learning curve in the world of Koalas, government, business, greenies, the community and science.

Under Deborah's direction, the Australian Koala Foundation has grown into an internationally recognised scientific organisation which has won a Computerworld Smithsonian Medal for excellence in mapping koala habitat. This has brought 'saving Koalas' to the world's consciousness and funded over 8 million dollars worth of pure research and conservation biology projects.

Deborah's vision for the Koala is that Australians will make positive and collective contributions to koala conservation by learning to live in harmony with Koalas via incentives, encouragement and information.

The AKF works to provide maps and management tools to help people look after Koalas in their back yards and help governments and planners create forward thinking strategies to protect Koala habitats. The AKF also teaches people about how precious Koalas are and how they can help.

In her lifetime, Deborah hopes to see all Koala habitats mapped, the enactment of the Koala Protection Act and the establishment of Koala conservation zones where people live with respect and understanding for neighbouring Koalas and other wildlife.

In 2008, Deborah received one of Australia's highest accolades, an Order of Australia Medal (read below), along with the Equity Trustees Not-For-Profit CEO of the Year Long Term Achiever award.

Deborah is also the recipient of the 2011 IABC EXCEL Award. She is the first Australian, first CEO of a Not-for-Profit organisation and first woman to win this prestigious communication award.

Winning this Award coincides with a dream of Deborah’s to have the Koala Habitat Atlas online as an interactive portal. KoalaMap is the AKFs interoperable mapping portal will be launching on the 31st March and will be the culmination of 25 years hard work.

2008 - OAM for 'Koala Woman'

The fight to protect Koalas and their habitat has been recognised by the Queen’s representive, the Governor General.
'Koala Woman' Deborah Tabart, CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation, was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in this year’s Australia Day Honour List for outstanding service to the nation and humanity through her work with the AKF.


Media Release: Triumph for Koala Woman

After 20 years fighting for the conservation of the wild Koala and its habitat, Deborah Tabart, ‘Koala Woman’, has been recognised by the Queen’s representative, Governor General Michael Jeffery in one of Australia’s most prestigious award ceremonies.

Ms Tabart was selected for an Order of Australia Medal because of her inspirational and unyielding commitment to protecting Australia’s wild Koalas and their natural habitat.

Announced on Australia Day 2008, these Honours are one of Australia’s highest levels of recognition, giving praise for outstanding service to the nation and humanity.

As CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation, Ms Tabart is seeing this as a great opportunity.

“There is a change in the air for conservation efforts.

“This recognition shows the increasing importance of protecting our koalas and the world’s natural environment.

“I plan to use the honour to raise the profile of our cause further and encourage the community, the government and businesses to do everything they can to lend a hand,” Ms Tabart said.

Ms Tabart joined the Australian Koala Foundation in 1988 and has built it from a tiny organisation to Australia’s principle group dedicated to the conservation and effective management of the wild Koala and it’s habitat.

The award focused on Ms Tabart’s commitment to mapping koala habitat through the Koala Habitat Atlas, wherein Ms Tabart and her team of scientists and volunteers mapped over four million hectares of land. As a result, the AKF has generated one of the largest bodies of conservation research for any one species in the world.