Graphic: Dr Don Bowley celebrates 25 years with RFDS (Queensland Section)

25 years serving rural and remote Queensland communities

Date published

03 Nov 2021

To those in the bush he's just Dr Don, but to us at the Flying Doctor Don Bowley is a living legend who has dedicated 25 years of his life to the RFDS (Queensland Section).

Dr Don Bowley

He won’t like us using the word legend because Dr Don Bowley OAM is a humble man who will no doubt say, “I’m just doing my job”.

It’s a big job, and one that’s seen Dr Don make an incredible difference in the lives of thousands of families living in remote areas of Queensland.

As Medical Officer at our Mount Isa Base, Dr Don is part of a team of doctors performing more than 960 emergency retrievals a year.

As a boy born and raised in the bush, Dr Don knows firsthand the importance of providing quality healthcare services to those living in the outback.

“People in the bush need good doctors that will stay. The need is real — when you look at health outcomes, life expectancy, service provision — it’s dramatically worse the more remote you go and even more so when working with First Nations peoples."

Dr Don’s passion for closing the gap is unmatched, yet he still feels indebted to his patients and the tiny towns where his legacy will live on forever.

“I feel part of the community, they make me feel part of the community. I see them in their tough times, they see me in my tough times. What you receive from them — the gratitude, appreciation and friendship — is much greater than what I give.”

One of Dr Don’s greatest challenges is what the Reverend John Flynn called the “Tyranny of Distance”.

“There are people in Western Queensland that need to travel 600 km to get an X-Ray. Others need to travel more than 200 km just to see a GP.”

Dr Don’s resume is a story of personal sacrifice. He’s given his life to medicine in remote areas across New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

He’s also contributed to the next generation of medical professionals as a medical student supervisor as part of the John Flynn Scholarship scheme.

He’s been widely recognised with countless community awards, culminating in being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to medicine through the RFDS in 2012. He’s even had a wharf named after him!

But he wouldn’t tell you any of this. He would rather just get on with the job of helping people.

Dr Don’s dedication to training the next generation of rural healthcare professionals means that many will have his passion, wisdom, and determination to call on. 

The RFDS (Queensland Section) thank Dr Don for his outstanding contribution to the Flying Doctor and acknowledge his unwavering commitment to providing the finest care for people living in rural and remote communities.