The past twelve months has been a period of significant change within RFDS (Queensland Section), with our two important operational pillars - aviation and health services, each focusing on the continually evolving air safety regulatory reforms and health service accreditation standards.
Earlier this year, the organisation embarked upon an aviation program designed to prepare our aeromedical operations for the impending changes to regulations proposed by the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA).
While regulatory reform will be progressive, we are now well advanced in anticipation of these changes across our maintenance, flight standards and flight safety training areas, well ahead of the expected mandated timeframe.
This, we view, as not only an investment in our future but also of paramount importance to the continued safety of those who fly with us and our enviable aviation safety record.
Throughout the year, our Health Services team has also taken giant strides in the preparatory journey towards full health service accreditation, with the organisation on track to have its first accreditation assessment by mid-2016.
In seeking to now measure ourselves against the National Quality Health Service & Safety Standards, our staff have embraced the opportunity to translate our unique clinical settings into now well-defined and measured standards of patient care.
While acknowledging there is still much to be done, it was gratifying to hear that an independent clinical review earlier this year acknowledged the considerable advances being made in our clinical governance.
Although these significant change programs have received much focus, our core business in providing the finest care to the furthest continued to prosper with our Queensland operations attending to in excess of 95,000 patient consults across our aeromedical, tele-health and primary health care programs.
In delivering these services, we heralded a number of service initiatives and milestones and completed some long awaited infrastructure projects.
> The commencement, this time last year, of our lead agency role for the Cairns based operations of national youth mental health foundation, Headspace; further testimony to our commitment to advance our focus on mental health.
> Also late in 2014, we opened our new RFDS Charleville Base redevelopment that now consolidates our hangar, administration and Visitor Centre.
> In November, two new B200 King Air retrieval aircraft were placed into service in Mount Isa and Cairns respectively.
> In March this year, we opened the doors of a new patient transfer facility at RFDS Rockhampton Base, at the same time commemorating the 20th anniversary of our service presence in this central Queensland coastal town.
> Then in June, we also celebrated the 20th anniversary of our RFDS Brisbane Base, which like Rockhampton, opened its doors on the same day - July 3rd 1995.
While delivering our services within the envelope of our State and Commonwealth governments' funding sources remains a challenge, it's through the continued generosity of our many donors, volunteers and corporate supporters, that the organisation was able to achieve a total operating surplus of $8.1m.
Over the past year, a total of $9.1 million in community support was gratefully received, which has enabled us, amongst other priorities, to confidently pursue our next advance in aviation transportation – the ordering of three new B350c King Air aircraft.
These new aircraft will come equipped with an increase payload capacity, the ability to travel from Cairns to Brisbane non-stop and with greater air speed potential. We anticipate that two of these new aircraft will be operational by mid-2016 and a tremendous addition to our patient care services.
Finally, on behalf of the Board, I thank our CEO, Nino Di Marco, his management team and all RFDS employees, for their continued commitment and tireless efforts this year towards positioning the organisation to continue to deliver quality health care to the people of Queensland, no matter where they live.