Volunteers at Wiawera keeping their communities healthy

Date published

04 Aug 2020

Jenny and Keith Treloar’s service to the community, and their dedication to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, is truly remarkable.

Jenny and Keith are volunteers. They live on remote Wiawera station and operate the Wiawera clinic which is staffed by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Jenny keeps the clinic clean, takes bookings, and provides a ‘‘cuppa’’ for patients and the team. Her husband Keith ensures the airstrip and lights are all in order in the event of being needed for emergencies. While clinics are ‘drive-in’, in the case of emergencies, their airstrip is used by both the Treloar's and any other family in need. 

The Treloar's have a long history with the Flying Doctor. “I first became aware of the Flying Doctor when my family bought the store and post office at Mingary in the mid-50s. The Royal Flying Doctor Service flew into nearby Radium Hill every Wednesday. After Keith and I married and had children, we continued to use the service until it closed in 1962,” Jenny explains. Jenny says the hardest part of living on a remote property was when she was a new mum, with limited availability of advice when the children got sick or hurt.

At the time, transceivers were the link to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. If help was needed after hours there was a whistle to blow which activated an alarm. “Telecommunications has made it much simpler these days,” says Jenny. “After the Radium Hill service closed, the RFDS began to fly into Wiawera as a drop-in clinic on the Flinders run. Initially, we used the lounge room of our homestead for consults, but when it was suggested we could have a half-day clinic we decided to use a nearby cottage as the clinic rooms. We were given a dental chair from the Sydney hospital, an examination bed, and the lounge was the waiting room where folk could have a cuppa or snack. That’s how our clinic started!”

The whole community chipped in to keep the strip at Wiawera up to standard, including people from nearby towns. In those days, flares were used to light the strip. “It was quite a business putting them out in the correct location, lighting and putting the caps back on half an hour after the aircraft departed!” They later received solar lights. “Over the years these lights have been used for emergencies - including some rather nasty accidents on surrounding properties and the highway,” says Jenny. 

Twenty-three years ago, a flood washed away the cottage, and the state government then replaced the clinic rooms with two transportable units which included not only doctor and dental rooms but women and children’s rooms as well. A mental health room was later added. “Our clinic is quite small, but still very much appreciated,” Jenny explains. 

“Donations from the community are so important, to keep the Royal Flying Doctor Service going. The Flying Doctor doesn’t just benefit the pastoral districts, but also the travelling public, Broken Hill and surrounding townships.” 

“We have had wonderful service from the Royal Flying Doctor Service over many years. The doctors, dentist and nursing staff are great people and very much appreciated by all in the district. Our family have all been helped many times over the years, and there is no better service that the bush folk could wish for.” 

We are so thankful for our wonderful volunteers.