Meet Melissah Draper-Zappulla!  Mel is AWL NSW’s Branch Support Officer and has worked at AWL NSW for 3.5 years. She recently made the transition into this role after working in the AWL NSW veterinary clinic as a nurse.  

When the Branch Support Officer role became available, Mel eagerly saw it as a great opportunity to continue working in the animal welfare space but through a new and challenging avenue. She had experienced working with our regional Branches in her role as a vet nurse and was impressed at how committed they were and what they were able to achieve. Knowing she wanted to be a part of that, she transitioned into the support officer role. 

We sat down with Mel to ask her a few questions.  


Q: What does your day to day look like?   

A: My role is centered around supporting our wonderful Branch volunteers around NSW. My days can be quite dynamic, involving a range of tasks to support and streamline our Branch operations. This includes communicating with Branch volunteers about various things including desexing procedures, fundraising efforts, adoptions, surrenders, and any issues that arise in their daily operations.  

I’m responsible for ensuring they are stocked with necessary items like flea treatments, adoption and desexing booklets, and fundraising materials, and I also coordinate and assist with animal transport between our rural Branches and Kemps Creek animal shelter.  

I also act as a liaison between the Branches and various AWL NSW departments such as marketing, the vet clinic, and accounts to ensure smooth communication and collaboration within the organisation.  

I work closely with the Branch Liaison Manager to develop new protocols and strategies aimed at improving the daily operations of our Branches which also includes coordinating and conducting training sessions for volunteers.  


Q: What do you like most about your role?   

A: Being able to work with and support an amazing bunch of volunteers who are passionate about animal welfare and spend every spare minute saving animals and giving them a second chance!  

During my time as a vet nurse I was lucky enough to work alongside several Branches on our animal care truck rural trips and it’s very clear they truly care about their local communities.  

I also enjoy really travelling to Branches – assisting them with transport or dropping off supplies or donations gives me a chance to meet all our volunteers face to face, see all the wonderful work they are doing and discuss how I can better support them.  


Q: Tell us a bit about the AWL NSW Branches.

A: We have 21 Branches located all over NSW, mostly in rural locations.  

Our Branches stretch from the North Coast (servicing up to the QLD border) down to the Far South Coast to areas such as Bega. Inland branches include Dubbo, Orange and Gunnedah.  

Each Branch is run by dedicated volunteers who coordinate transport, fostering, vet visits, adoptions/surrenders and fundraising events on a daily basis.  

A lot of our volunteers work and have other commitments but will open their homes to multiple foster animals, take animals to vet checks, run fundraisers and organise discounted desexing in a hope to reduce strays and improve animal care.  


Q: What difference do the AWL NSW Branches make in their communities?   

A: Their contribution is immeasurable. Each Branch is run by a handful of dedicated volunteers who manage to look after the complete needs of animals in their care, whilst also assisting and educating their communities. They create good working relationships with their local vets and councils and run year-round subsidised desexing programs.  

Many rural communities have significant issues with strays and full pounds – our AWL NSW Branches contribute significantly by helping to reduce these numbers and ease the burden on their local community.   

Their work not only reduces the stress local pounds and smaller rescues are under but also reduces the flow on affect to our Sydney shelter and other metropolitan rescues.  


Q: At AWL NSW we are proud to care for animals on their journey from hope (from when they come into our care) to love (when they are adopted into a loving family). How do our Branches help animals on this journey?  

Our Branches are committed to providing the best possible care for all the animals in their care. Whether it be growing their own foster networks or taking animals into their own homes, they ensure they receive the right nutrition, vaccinations and enrichment until their forever homes can be found. They provide the best possible care for their animals by hosting fundraising events and some even run op-shops, with all funds raised directly supporting their care initiatives.  


Q: Finally, what do you love most about working at AWL NSW?   

What I love most about working at AWL NSW is being a part of an animal’s journey, particularly strays or neglected animals—seeing them come in unwell or shut down, assisting with their medical treatment, providing a safe environment for them to flourish, and then seeing them find their forever homes is really special.   

I also love the staff and friendships I have made, working with the most passionate, kind, and hardworking individuals I have ever met, who are 100% dedicated to the animals and what’s best for them.  

If becoming a Branch volunteer interests you, find out more information here!

Looking for some pet advice?

Learn More