Flying Doctor celebrates 90 years of saving lives

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is celebrating 90 years of regional healthcare in Australia by launching their 90for90 campaign.

The campaign calls for the public to contribute a dollar for each year of RFDS service.

Western Australia’s Governor Kim Beazley says the RFDS is an iconic operation that requires substantial backing and support.

“The people who are out there in distant Australia, this is what keeps them alive, this is what gives them the confidence they can be kept alive,” Governor Beazley says.

“There would certainly be a very large number of lives they save every year, but it’s not just the lives they save, it’s the confidence they give.”

Mr Beazley talked about his first memory of the RFDS when he was introduced to a pioneer of the service, Robin ‘Sugar Bird Lady’ Miller.

The RFDS celebrated 90 years of service today.

“She was flying polio vaccines to communities when it was endemic,” Mr Beazley says.

“I had polio when I was a kid, so my parents were always interested when people were doing work in the area of polio vaccinations and she was the most spectacular participant in what was a very widespread operation in WA.”

The Governor emphasised the importance of the RFDS, considering the vast distances of Australia and Western Australia in particular.

“We’re a nation of distance, probably more so than the rest of the world,” Mr Beazley says.

“We inhabit a massive continent, but in a small number of places.”

RFDS chief executive officer Rebecca Tomkinson called on the community to support the health service.

“The Flying Doctor belongs to all of us and is something that we should be incredibly proud of,” Ms Tomkinson says.

“We ask that you donate $1 for every year of our service to help us continue to innovate and provide a very important medical and health service for WA.”

Deputy WA Premier Roger Cook also congratulated the RFDS for the work they do both around Australia and around the state.

“We couldn’t provide the great health care we do to the people of Western Australia without the RFDS,” Mr Cook says.

“Emergency patient transport, such as that provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, is an essential service that allows country communities to access care in an emergency.”

The State government unveiled a new $7.9 million RFDS fleet aircraft in February as part of a $327 million injection over the next four years.

The Minister also prompted the community to support the service and says the life-saving organisation needs the backing of the people.

“Don’t take the RFDS for granted, we’ve always accepted that it’s there because of the great work that it’s done,” Mr Cook says.

“But it needs our support and the 90for90 campaign is just another opportunity for all West Australians to get behind this great Australian institution and boost their fundraising effort, so they can go on to provide better care into the future.”

Listen to Nurse Coleen and the Sawyer family tell us about their experiences with the RFDS.