Additional funding keeps Australian icon flying high

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is making the most of the additional $84 million announced in the budget by extending its existing services and establishing a new mental health outreach program for Australians in rural and remote areas.

Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie with Senator Steve Martin and Senator David Bushby, visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Launceston today, and heard how the Coalition Government’s commitment is ensuring the iconic service continues to provide for regional Australia. 

“Through the Coalition Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has received continued funding to provide essential aeromedical services,” Minister McKenzie said. 

“Spending time in Launceston today, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing firsthand how important the Royal Flying Doctor Service is to those living in beautiful rural and regional Tasmania and how much it is relied upon.”

Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin said the Tasmanian branch of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is vital for those living outside regional centres. 

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service Tasmania provides reliable access to primary health care services, including dental for people living, working and visiting rural and remote areas of Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands,” Senator Martin said. 

“Thanks to the Coalition Government’s ongoing support, vital services like the outreach dental program will continue beyond March 2019 when previous funding was due to cease.

“From 1 January 2019, a new Mental Health Outreach Clinic program will provide professional mental health services to areas where there are currently few or none.”

This additional funding brings the Coalition Government’s four-year commitment to the Royal Flying Doctor Service to $327 million and ensures these essential services are available where and when people need them.

Minister McKenzie is no stranger regional Australia: “We know that Australians living in regional areas often have limited access to essential services and support that those in metropolitan cities take for granted,” Minister McKenzie said. 

Senator for Tasmania, David Bushby acknowledged the breadth of services and support offered by the Royal Flying Doctor Service across the country. 

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of 7.69 million square kilometres,” Senator Bushby said.

“Last year alone, the Royal Flying Doctor Service cared for 335,000 Australians in the air, on the ground, or via telehealth.”

The Government is also increasing its contribution to stand-by arrangements for Royal Flying Doctor Service bases to ensure access to ambulance services.

Six Royal Flying Doctor Service operational sections will directly benefit from this funding – Royal Flying Doctor Service of Tasmania (TAS), South East Section (NSW), Central Operations (SA and south of Tennant Creek), Western Operations (WA), Queensland Operations (QLD) and Royal Flying Doctor Service Victorian Section (VIC).