Balancing life in the outback

Date published

12 Oct 2023

RFDS Mental Health Clinical Lead Donna is mentoring our team of mental health clinicians while helping people in South-West Queensland.

Our newly appointed RFDS Mental Health Clinical Lead, Donna, is confident she will never move back to the city after falling in love with life in the outback.

Donna spent more than 24 years working in Government roles before joining the Flying Doctor as a Mental Health Clinician in Longreach three years ago.

She is now working from our Charleville Base as a FIFO Mental Health Clinician in our Remote Wellbeing Service whilst mentoring and guiding our team of clinicians across the state.


“I love this job because it is so unique,” Donna said.

“My day might start with a cup of coffee watching the sunrise in Birdsville before flying with our Primary Health Care team to a designated clinic across the region.

“I’m a registered psychologist and we offer mental health services to clients living in Birdsville, Thargomindah, Yaraka, Stonehenge, Jundah, Eulo, Yowah and Windorah.

“No day is ever the same, and I love it.”

Donna’s passion for mental health started back in 1994 when she noticed she had a fascination for human behavior and an interest in trauma.

She also had a passion for advocating for people to access mental health services and support before becoming unwell.

“RFDS was always an organisation that I really believed in, in terms of providing health services into the rural and remote communities,” Donna said.

“I hear again and again how much rural communities trust and rely on the service, so it tied in really well with my desire to work more remotely, the time in my life when I could do that, and the belief I have in the service.”

Donna in community

Over the years Donna has formed strong relationships with the community and has been able to provide mental health and wellbeing support during the highs and lows of rural life.

“People who live in a small community can become quite overwhelmed as their social connection is limited,” Donna said.

“If there’s any relationship issues, it’s difficult to avoid so you have to try and confront it head on.

“I see a lot of people struggling with the transition into different life stages and with tragedies such as motor vehicle or aircraft accidents.

“When something bad happens in a rural community it can have a ripple effect because the community is so tight.”

Donna’s days are usually filled with hourly mental health therapy sessions linking those who need additional support to Queensland Health for Telehealth psychiatry, social work or pediatric assessments.

In her new role as Clinical Lead, Donna will also mentor and guide our team of RFDS Mental Health Clinicians who work across Western Queensland from our bases in Charleville, Longreach and Mount Isa.

“If we weren’t out in these communities, doing consistent face-to-face consultations, it would have a huge impact,” she said.

“For places like Yowah, it’s the only health service they get that comes to their door.

RFDS delivers more than 11,800 consultations in Queensland each year conducted by headspace Cairns and RFDS Mental Health Clinicians.

To find out more about RFDS Mental Health services, in Queensland, visit the RFDS website.

If you have specific mental health concerns, please contact RFDS mental health on (07) 4040 0444 (Far North QLD) or 1300 010 174 (Outback QLD). For crisis healthcare, contact 13 YARN on 13 92 76 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.