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By Tania Martin 2nd June 2009
Left: Elly Robertson and Ellie Travica planted trees last month to replace burnt habitat at Yellingbo Reserve.

Left: Elly Robertson and Ellie Travica planted trees last month to replace burnt habitat at Yellingbo Reserve.

FOUR hills friends are again doing their bit to make a difference.

Twins Ellie and Mollie Travica of Emerald, Kallista’s Elly Robertson and Emma Falconberg, of Berwick, are helping to save the endangered Leadbeater’s possum.

But they are not strangers to campaigning for worthy causes.

Last October the girls made the finals in the Macquarie Bank Future Problem Solving Program with their bid to raise awareness for kids in East Timor. The Beaconsfield College students formed a group called YES (Youth for East Timor Squad) to highlight the plight of the school, 20 De Septembro.

In the last year of the East Timor guerrilla war, on 20 September 1999, the small school was burnt down. It was reopened a short time later but struggled under poor conditions and the students had little shelter. In 2003, through the Alola Foundation, Beaconhills College in Berwick became a sister school.

Through the school’s fundraising the school was able to open the first of its class rooms in 2006.

The girls had been involved in helping the school since Grade 1 and YES gave them the chance to do something more.

They told the Mail last October they were hoping to build lasting relationships with the school while boosting educational opportunities for kids in East Timor.

The girls raised more than $4000 and put together a scrapbook of photographs of the campaign for the school in the small province of Ermera. But, this year the girls wanted to do something closer to home.

So now they are trying to help save the Leadbeater’s possum. Ellie, Mollie, Elly and Emma all braved cold and wet conditions to take part in a tree-planting day at Yellingbo Reserve last month (2 May). Elly said the possum was one of Victoria’s emblems and the girls wanted to try to do something to help. They formed a new group this year called HELP (Helping the Endangered Leadbeater’s Possum).

Fewer than 1000 Leadbeater’s possums are left in Australia and the February fires destroyed 45 per cent of their habitat.

Elly said it was now vital to start replacing trees and nesting boxes.

HELP is now calling for donations for nesting boxes that are specifically designed to house the possums and cost $150 each.

We are planning fundraising to support the nesting box project after many were destroyed in the fires, Elly said.

Elly said the girls were also getting wrist bands made to sell at school and Healesville Sanctuary to raise awareness and cash for the cause.

She said the sanctuary was also working closely with HELP in a bid to save the Leadbeater’s possum.

Anyone wanting to make a donation towards the cause could send a cheque to the Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum, PO Box 1175, Healesville or log on to