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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin December 2010
40 DECEMBER 2010 EARLY EXPERIENCES In January 1978, landing on the gravel airstrip at Cook on the Nullabor Plain in remote South Australia, I felt a great sense of anticipation, but I had no idea how my life was to change from that day. My dental assistant and I were passengers in a Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Piper Chieftain aircraft on our very first trip to the ADA/RFDS Dental Clinics in remote SA. The tiny railway settlement of Cook on the Transcontinental Railway had a fettler's camp, a school and a small hospital run by the Anglican Bush Church Aid Society. On the western veranda of the hospital was a very basic dental surgery which had no air conditioning, but a view to the horizon and the railway track heading to Kalgoorlie. DENTAL CLINICS Cook was one of seven outback settlements visited monthly by a panel of Adelaide dentists. The clinic was jointly run by the ADA and the RFDS (SA/NT Section) as it was then known. In 1958, Dr Ralph Ockenden flew from the newly established base at Port Augusta on the first South Australian RFDS Dental Clinic. Progressively, this service grew. By 1963, Dr Malcolm Joyner organized a panel of Adelaide dentists to provide regular dental visits to several centres including Marree, Oodnadatta, Andamooka, Cook, Tarcoola and Kingoonya. In 1977, when I was asked to join the panel there were two three- day clinics operating each month and modern portable equipment was carried on the aircraft with an air compressor, X-ray unit, chair and suction set up at each community. Although I was a country boy, I had never been to the remote outback area. I was absolutely bowled over by the experience; both working with the Flying Doctor Service and being in the unique environment we know as 'The Outback'. RFDS COUNCIL Two years later, I was asked to chair the Dental Panel; a challenge I readily accepted. This meant that I also became the ADASA ROYAL FLYING DOCTOR SERVICE Bowled over by the experience representative on the Council of the RFDS (SA/NT Section). At that time the RFDS had a Council of 19, many of whom were nominees of rural and health organizations. The governance issues were cumbersome to say the least. I was not surprised when it was decided a few years later to reduce the Council to 12 people elected by the members. By this time, I was totally hooked and nominated for the position of Councillor. I was duly elected and began a journey that was totally unexpected and ultimately took me to the highest office in our national icon. FUNDRAISING FOR RFDS At that time, the RFDS (SA/NT Section) was a small and low profile organization with a fleet of four small twin engine aircraft based at Alice Springs and Port Augusta providing aeromedical services to northern South Australia and the southern half of the Northern Territory. It was recognized in the early 80s that a huge fund raising effort would be required to meet the expanding needs of the residents and visitors in these remote areas. I was appointed Chairman of the newly formed public relations and fundraising Cook Hospital, South Australia (1977).
ADA News Bulletin November 2010
ADA News Bulletin February 2011