RFDS Partnership - D9640 Conference Presentation by Ian Yarker

District Conference Presentation - Ian Yarker

We have been asked how the Rotary e-club of NextGen became involved with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The E-Club of NextGen is almost 3 years old now. Beginning with 26 members living in Griffith, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Bribie Island, Tamborine Mountain, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Germany; we soon spread to USA, Japan, UAE, Stanthorpe, Boonah, Darwin, Launceston, Bundaberg, and Wauchope. Many did not have easy access to a local Rotary Club.

We meet on the internet using GoToMeeting software.

How do we keep members feeling inclusive?

The Board decided to support any member with their own project and empower them, rather than the Board taking ownership of the project and selling it to the membership.

Members also had to create their own project-funding, supported by limited club funds if possible.

We asked – what is our community.

  • Gold Coast where we have our post box address;
  • District 9640 which administers us;
  • Queensland which RI included in our full club name;
  • Australia; or
  • The world.

All options were open. Some members focused locally, some regionally, some overseas.

Today we have many projects including:

  • James Jacob Fellowship, Gold Coast Christmas lunch
  • ARH - Pancreatic Cancer Research.
  • Indigenous Literacy in Tennant Creek, Mossman Gorge, and Coen.
  • Involvement with Orphanages and Schools in Kenya & Cambodia.
  • Rainforest Foundation in Indonesia.
  • Ride for RYLA in India and Peru.
  • Knitted ‘Fish n Chip’ baby vests to be sent overseas.

We have an exchange student; we support KIVA wit h 75 loans to date; we support district youth programs and the Suns Horizon program; and everyone donates to Rotary Foundation.

One such proposed project was to organise recreational vehicle trips within Australia- ‘Travelling with a purpose’.

For this project, we needed a medical kit so visited the Flying Doctor Service in Brisbane. At that meeting I asked “Is there anything we could do for you given we have almost no community funds?”

A week later they emailed asking whether we could consider assisting with:

  1. Rejuvenating 7 flying doctor houses at Mt Isa;
  2. Landscaping a proposed hangar complex at Charleville;
  3. Help with construction of a patient transfer facility at Rockhampton; and
  4. Provide decent food at the Birdsville races.

We said Yes!

Over the last two years we have managed 3400 volunteer hours in Mt Isa. During two separate six week work periods we had volunteers from Melbourne, Griffith, Grafton, Goondiwindi, Warwick, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Bundaberg, and Mt Isa.

They had budgeted $260,000 for some of this work that we were able to complete with volunteers.

We brought people together in a wonderful partnership 

The Charleville landscaping job was accomplished with the huge commitment of Peter and Gloria Cory, then President of Goondiwindi Club, as well as volunteers from Alstonville, Goonellabah, Ashmore, Stanthorpe and the e-Club.

We partnered to achieve the outcome.

Heather made 2 phone calls and the Rockhampton North Club was delighted we had found a project for them in the construction of the patient transfer facility. We visited the Club, explained our club philosophy and learnt they regularly donate to the Rocky Flying Doctor Service Base but were unaware of the need.

Now they helped concrete, install fencing, and have donated $10,000 to the project.

We connected the Flying Doctor Service to a local Club across Rotary Districts.

Then there is Birdsville

We have Rotarians and friends from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Bundaberg regions. Rotary members from these regions including Alstonville, Goonellabah, Warwick Sunrise, Ashmore, and 4 e-club members converged on Birdsville in the first week of September for past 2 years to sell steak & egg burgers, sausages, plus drinks, fruit, and vegetable’s.

Last September a Rotarian baked and delivered buns from Bundaberg. The other 1500 buns were delivered from Mt Isa by a Rotarian.

We now work closely with the Birdsville Race Committee and Flying Doctor Service Qld Section and provide support for the Cocktail Party in the Simpson Desert. Last year we also influenced and staffed a new fundraiser- a fun run for the 7000 visitors to compete in or punt on.

All this is effort estimated to be the equivalent of the Flying Doctor Service receiving about half a million dollars of cash donations.

Not bad for a club nearly 3 years old. Don’t forget this is just one of our member projects.

We also organised a Red Centre Tag Along Tour last August which visited Flying Doctor Service bases at Broken Hill, Alice Springs, Mt Isa, and Longreach. We made donations and gained a general understanding of the Flying Doctor Service and of the plight of rural and remote Australia.

We have another Tag Along Tour to the Cape next month including supporting the Coen Wellbeing Centre administered by the Flying Doctor Cairns base which we will visit.

And we have yet another Tour to Tassie next February focused on Australian Rotary Health Social and Emotional Wellbeing.

Our forward thinking worldly President Geoff is finalising a project to assist all who have Birdsville Races on the bucket list but don’t want to drive 1600km each way. This will involve participants joining a 46 seat Virgin flight from Brisbane to Birdsville, out and back in the same day 7am-7.30pm. Be an inaugural Birdsville FIFO Race Day Reveller. The day will involve breakfast in downtown Birdsville, premium view of the races trackside in a VIP marquee, local Coach transport, a visit to the Birdsville Pub and Dusty’s Bakery, as well as the chance to see the iconic race. The group will then take off into the sunset at 5pm, thus avoiding the rigours of Simpson Desert accommodation at a town – population 115 plus or minus 7000 during Race Week.

The proceeds from this endeavour will go to enhancing Flying Doctor Service Social and Emotional Wellbeing units in rural and remote Australia.

So what a fantastic outcome for Rotary and for the Royal Flying Doctor Service simply because we asked the question: “Is there anything we could do for you given we have almost no community funds?”

Rotary makes things happen.

We Partner, we share, we are outcome driven.

Having established a Royal Flying Doctor Service relationship, we find it amazing that a service organisation like Rotary in Australia has not developed a service arrangement with this iconic organisation that provides a mantle of safety to 85% of the Australian landmass.

We asked the question. We are committed to the answers.