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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin December 2010
41 DECEMBER 2010 committee and quickly set about recruiting the first professional fundraiser to the RFDS. We soon began raising the profile and fundraising targets of the organization with very pleasing results. As a dentist on the Council of the SA Branch of the ADA and coming from a family with a strong aviation background I had some knowledge of both the provision of health services and aviation, so I felt very much at home with the RFDS. I participated in state and national strategic planning seminars which resulted in restructuring the entire organization. The Adelaide based section became RFDS Central Operations and the Federal Council became the RFDS Australian Council. I was becoming more heavily involved, serving on many state and national committees and ultimately had the privilege of chairing both the State and National Boards. Being part of the RFDS family was a huge part of my life which required a lot of time away from my practice and understanding support from my family. REFLECTIONS ON 23 YEARS My involvement over 23 years saw significant growth and development of the RFDS. The traditional role of delivering emergency aeromedical services in remote areas continued, but other roles were initiated. In every state the RFDS became the major provider of air ambulance services to state health Brian Wheeler at Reverend John Flynn's Grave, Mt Gillen, Northern Territory. Bi Wh l tR dJh Fl ' G Mt Gill RFDS Flight Nurse on routine outback Clinic flight. (Courtesy RFDS). organizations, with bases in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Sydney and Brisbane providing aeromedical retrieval services to a city based population. Clinical services expanded with new initiatives such as administering a federal scheme providing female general practitioner services to rural and remote areas to assist in women's health projects. Other projects that have been well received included the provision of mental health clinicians, visiting medical specialists, nurse practitioners, Aboriginal health projects, telemedicine and the provision of clinical education for medical students. The provision of dental services has been one glaring omission as the RFDS became caught up in the blame shifting between Commonwealth and State health departments on the funding of dental services. The only continuing dental service is operated by RFDS Eastern Operations out of the Broken Hill Base. With the national trend of downgrading the range of services provided by regional hospitals, the RFDS has been asked to increase the range of services it provides in rural and remote areas. Generally, these services are funded by a mixture of State and Commonwealth contracts, but capital expenditure for aircraft, buildings and equipment is largely funded from RFDS fundraising. The aircraft fleet of 53 turboprop, pressurized Pilatus PC12 and Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft operating from 21 bases, has a combined value of about $250 million; a far cry from the 1930s when the fledgling airline Qantas, operating a DeHavilland Biplane, provided the first RFDS aviation contract from Cloncurry in Queensland. I enjoyed the involvement I had with the RFDS and appreciated the opportunity to visit many outback communities and the wonderful people who live there. They are often overlooked by the bureaucrats in the capital cities. Reverend John Flynn is regarded as a national hero for establishing the RFDS and it was my great privilege to get to know his successor Reverend Fred McKay quite well. His devotion to providing a mantle of safety for the people in the bush was a great inspiration and I was honoured to speak on behalf of the RFDS at his funeral. Board members of the RFDS are not paid, so this is definitely community service work; a task I regarded as a great privilege and would highly recommend. It was a great learning experience. Although there were times in the inevitable politics of a national organization that I felt well outside my comfort zone, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my involvement. Brian Wheeler Stirling 5152
ADA News Bulletin November 2010
ADA News Bulletin February 2011