A New Zealand vet who raised thousands of dollars for supplies and headed over to Australia to help save fire-affected wildlife was told to "go home" by officials.
Veterinarian Dr Rebecca Penman joined a Wildlife Victoria animal rescue team, which included two experienced rescuers, a vet and a vet nurse, and travelled through fire-affected East Gippsland from Orbost to Buchan.
After hearing that the Australian Government was making food drops over Buchan, the team decided to get a permit to access Buchan Rd as animals must have been sighted there.
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However, the team were left disappointed when they were allegedly blocked access by the Victorian department of environment (DELWP), even though police let them through.
With 1.5 million hectares scorched in the area and countless animals likely dying of burns and starvation, the wild professionals were left questioning why they would not be allowed in and assist the (DELWP) teams already inside.
"When we got down to Buchan we were told that we basically had to turn around and go back home," Penman told Yahoo News Australia.
"They're saying we don't need any volunteers, we don't need anyone helping ... but there's plenty of wildlife out there, the government is just pushing back."
The team, who had medical supplies with them, believed the nearest triage centre manned by a vet was 60km away.
Experienced darter Ian Slattery told Yahoo Australia the reasons given were mainly over safety issues.
"There are other teams there, they basically hadn't planned for us to be around," he said.
"I made it clear to them that we had a vet with us, but none of that made any difference, we were just told to go back."