Tuesday, 13th June, 2017
By Andrew Robertson
It’s been in the air for over 80 years but more than ever the Flying Doctor is relying on fundraising to stay there, according to the South East Section’s new president.
Ruth Sandow, a grazier from Pimpara Lake Station, has just stepped into the position left vacant by the resignation of Lyell Strambi due to work commitments.
With functions in NSW, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, the mantle of safety provided by the SE Section continues to grow and evolve.
The rising cost of providing that care means more than ever the RFDS has become reliant on donors and charitable events like the annual Flying Doctor Ball, according to Ms Sandow.
Increasingly, donations that were once set aside for capital is now being used to help fund core health programs like mental health, drug and alcohol and dental.
Last year alone the RFDS spent $3 million on programs that were not funded, or not funded completely, by government contacts or government grants.
“More and more of, if you like, the RFDS’ money is being used for that so it’s really, really critical that those charitable organisations keep going to help (raise money),” Ms Sandow said.
But the Flying Doctor also had to look at where it was channeling its resources to ensure it was helping to deliver “equity of service across the bush”, be it emergency, chronic or acute care.
“It’s not just a matter of the RFDS providing a service, it’s also going to be a matter of in the future looking at how best the resources are used and committing them where they are needed most, perhaps even scaling back or providing an alternate option for other areas where situations like road conditions and access have improved.
“Things do happen and you need to have a service that can respond quickly and efficiently and obviously deal with any sort of emergency that could end up saving a life.”
Ms Sandow, who has been on the section’s board for the past seven years, the last two and a bit as vice president, will remain interim president until the section’s annual general meeting in November.
But her tenure is set to continue beyond November with fellow board members already encouraging her to stay on for at least one full term.