Royal flying doctor takes off to protect remote Aussies from COVID-19

The Hon Mark Coulton MP

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government

From Cape York to Kangaroo Island, to Wilcannia to Alice Springs, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is in the air delivering safe and effective vaccines to remote Australian communities.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack joined Regional Health Minister and Parkes MP, Mark Coulton to visit the RFDS base in Dubbo to announce a significant national partnership.

Minister Coulton said the partnership with Australia’s iconic aeromedical service means remote communities can be confident in their ability to access vaccination against COVID-19.

“From the outset of this pandemic, the RFDS has provided retrievals, evacuations, swab transfers, and fly-in GP respiratory clinics, protecting the lives of people living and working in the most remote corners of the country.

“The Federal Government is continuing this pandemic partnership with RFDS, engaging the 93-year-old service to delivery vaccines in remote communities,” Minister Coulton said.

“Nobody knows remote communities like the RFDS and it makes sense for the Government to utilise their capacity and knowledge to ensure all Australians are protected against this global pandemic.”

The Deputy Prime Minister said the RFDS assisting with the COVID-19 vaccine roll out was just the latest chapter in their comprehensive history of delivering crucial medical support to rural and remote Australia.

“With our nation being such a demographically diverse and sparsely populated country, the RFDS is uniquely poised to help us meet the challenge of the global pandemic,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Regional, rural and remote Australia has been one of the safest places in all of the world in which to live during the COVID-19 pandemic and the universal vaccine roll out will ensure this continues well into the future.

“This partnership is an essential component of the Federal Government’s commitment to provide the best possible protection for all Australians.”

Minister Coulton said the latest lockdown in Victoria demonstrates the importance for all Australians to roll up their sleeves and be vaccinated.

“Australia’s success in minimising the impact of coronavirus should be a source of pride for us all but mustn’t make for complacency.

“Vaccination is the key to a strong future and particularly important for remote communities, where we know chronic diseases are increased and access to health care is less,” Minister Coulton said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at a high risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 and this partnership with RFDS means they can stay in community and still get vaccinated.”

Federation Executive Director of the RFDS, Frank Quinlan said the organisation is pleased to work with the Federal Government and national health partners on the national COVID-19 response.

“Rural and remote Australia has been protected to date from COVID-19 outbreaks, and we are determined for this success story to be continued,” Mr Quinlan said.

Following on from the successful vaccine administration in Eucla, WA, planning and development is well underway for communities in remote Australia, including:

  • Queensland – Cape York communities, Normanton, Doomadgee, and Longreach.
  • South Australia – Kangaroo Island, APY Lands, Yalata, and Oak Valley.
  • Western Australia – NG lands, One Arm Point, Cape Leveque, and Fitzroy Valley.
  • New South Wales – Ivanhoe, Menindee, Tibooburra, Wilcannia, Innamincka, and White Cliffs.
  • Northern Territory – Alice Springs

The Australian Government has committed $35.2 million to fund RFDS’s COVID-19 activities since

April 2020.

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