The federal Minister for Regional Health David Gillespie and Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia chair Dr John O'Donnell have announced a 10-year $1 billion partnership between the Australian government and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The long-term partnership will deliver better health outcomes to Australians living beyond the reach of mainstream services.
With the support of Australians everywhere, the RFDS has delivered essential health services for more than 90 years and now comprises an extensive network of 23 bases, 79 aircraft and 165 road transport vehicles and mobile clinics supported by more than 2000 staff members.
The federal government has more than eight decades of history supporting and partnering with the RFDS, going back to the 1930s.
To support that partnership, the government has committed additional funding of more than $80 million over the next ten years, taking support for the RFDS to $1 billion over ten years from 2022-2033.
Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie said while emergency evacuations are what the RFDS was most well-known for, its role extends far beyond that to providing primary health care clinics, dental outreach and multidisciplinary mental health outreach services.
"Our new formal agreement will give the RFDS certainty and allow it to offer flexible services that are responsive to local needs."
He added that the historic partnership will provide long-term security to enable the service to plan better into the future.
"Until today, agreements between the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the federal government have been four-year agreements.
"This new 10-year strategic partnership recognises the vital role that the RFDS plays in the lives of Australians and gives the RFDS much more certainty to plan for the future and continue to deliver."
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors, nurses, pilots and support staff at the RFDS demonstrated their capability and capacity, delivering more than 75,000 vaccinations and flying in vaccines and PPE to some of the most far-flung areas.
"It was during those times that city people around Australia learnt what country people have always known, that being that the RFDS is such a trusted part of the regional, rural and remote health workforce," Dr Gillespie said.
Federation executive director Frank Quinlan said it was a landmark agreement.
"Australians living outside metropolitan centres experience poorer health outcomes across the board.
"This agreement will allow both the Australian government and the Royal Flying Doctor Service to make a real difference to people who might otherwise miss out on services, and especially for Indigenous Australians.
"Over the decades, everyday Australians have trusted and supported the RFDS to establish infrastructure, equipment, capacity and community links.
"This partnership sets that work on a strong foundation for the decade ahead, and provides certainty to our dedicated workforce and supports."
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