I have been a supporter of the Royal Flying Doctor Service South East Section for about 15 years now and have been a Constitutional Member for the last three years and have attended many of their AGMs which have been held in Parliament House in Sydney.
This year, they changed things around – 2018 is the 90th year of the service, so to celebrate that milestone, and the arrival of some new aircraft – and the opening of a new hangar, it was decided to hold the AGM in Broken Hill. Broken Hill was the site of their one of first bases, opening in May 1936. It is an important part of the operational management of the service and also houses an education centre. The new hangar will replace an ageing one that doesn’t have air conditioning, which will be refurbished as a museum.
The AGM was over fairly quickly, with several announcements that were important:
- The RFDS South East Section is in great financial shape. They received $77.4M in funding and had expenditure of $72M in the last financial year.
- 64% of revenues still come from Government sources with Federal funding dropping yet State funding grew as the Federal Government changes the way it distributes tax payer money.
- The Royal Flying Doctor Service was named the “most trusted charity” for the 7th year in a row.
- New aircraft have been purchased with the first one now in Broken Hill.
From the AGM, we went into the new hangar to see the new aircraft and to celebrate some of the functions and main sponsorship events that occur most years. The RFDS is no longer just about emergency recovery of patients from outback areas, they also have regular clinics in remote towns and stations and have now got a mobile dental van that gets out to areas where people have no access to dental facilities. Alongside this van, the service also has several ambulances for plane to hospital transportation.
One other important function that they now perform are the clinics for mental health – a growing issue in remote areas that is typically associated with alcohol or drug dependencies or worse, family violence issues. The RFDS is making headway into helping people in tough situations and the presentations were very worthwhile.
The event finished with a light lunch and a slice of 90th birthday cake! I then headed off to the shop to pick up some of their highly prized Christmas puddings and got an impromptu view of one of the RFDS aircraft from the 1950s that has been acquired for restoration.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an important part of Australia’s heritage and is worth supporting and I would be happy if you would join me in helping to fund their services.