Alcohol and other Drugs team success

Date published

17 Jan 2019
Ursula with her husband Craig and daughter Sophie

The RFDS SE’s Alcohol and other Drugs (AoD) team launched just over a year ago and has been very busy.

The Flying Doctor set it up to address a grave need in the community, and the response has been positive. The AoD team as it’s known, had 612 instances of community engagement in March 2018, 1870 touch points in June, and 2121 contacts in September.

David Honeysett, the AoD program manager, said the program was working so well because the community believes in the RFDS, and the fact that the AoD offers a holistic approach to treating mental health and drug and alcohol problems.

The next major step for the team was to introduce the Respecting the Difference program, an education program that helps to create understanding of Aboriginal people and their culture for non-indigenous people, first to the RFDS staff and then to the wider community.


New AoD team grows


Here, we’re introduced to the two new staff members who’ve joined the AoD team in recent months.

Ursula Ryan, community engagement officer
(pictured right with husband Craig and daughter Sophie)

Q. What made you want to work at the RFDS?


I want to help people and the RFDS is a place where I can really contribute.

It is such a recognised brand and is delivering much needed services, and I believe the RFDS AoD and Mental health teams can have a big impact for rural and remote communities.

Q. Can you tell us about yourself?


I struggled with mental illness myself when I was young. I’ve found that by helping other people, I can help myself.

When I had my daughter Sophie, I felt I had a purpose and I wanted to better myself. I did a certificate 4 in youth work and before coming to the RFDS I worked at Westhaven in disability services

Q. What are you looking forward to at the RFDS?


I am proud to be part of a dedicated team of professionals at the RFDS and I look forward to supporting communities towards stronger health and wellbeing.

The intervention and prevention we’re doing with youth is particularly important.

Recently I ran a drug education pilot program at a high school in western NSW. We built trust and by the end they were running the program. It’s a good feeling to know you have touched kids in a positive way. I hope we’re going to take this program to other schools.

Anthony Hayward with his wood carvings

Anthony Hayward, clinical support worker (pictured right)

Q.What inspired you to work with the RFDS?

I have always been interested in working with the RFDS and this is my first opportunity. I’m passionate about working for the community and this is something I will be able to do in my new role.

I hope to make some ground by working and engaging in community and building strength throughout the region. 

Q. What are you most looking forward to in your new job?

I'm a clinical support worker in the AoD team and will be one of the leaders in delivering the Respecting the Difference education program to all RFDS staff in the coming months.

I hope to get out and work with some great people, make an impact and really get the ball rolling to help people with some of the issues people may face on a daily basis.

I also hope to have a positive impact on the communities we serve. My biggest wish is to help strengthen our service delivery and make a real impact on the way we work. 

Q. Do you have any hobbies or other interests?

I am a local didgeridoo player and also like to carve wood in my spare time. I really like making Aboriginal artefacts like boomerangs, nulla-nullas, and clap sticks.