Queenslander Christopher Wallin supports the Royal Flying Doctor Service but he’s probably better known as a successful business man and the Managing Director of QCoal Group. We caught up with Chris recently to discover more about his life, and why he chooses to support the Flying Doctor.
I guess you could say I had a typical childhood. I went to a local school and had holidays at the beach at Christmas. My father was born in Eidsvold, Queensland. He fought in World War II and on his return, he put himself through university. Mum believed strongly in the advantages of a tertiary education, even though she left school at the end of grade 8.
I was interested in rocks, minerals, and soils from a young age and when I was awarded a scholarship to study geology at the University of Queensland, I didn’t really consider any other profession. After I graduated, I begun working for the Queensland Mines Department and my job was to discover coal deposits throughout Queensland.
The first time I travelled out west for any real length of time was as a young geologist. I love the natural landscapes in Australia, but the isolation was always a factor and we had to be careful because if you are injured on an exploration program, you are generally a long way from help.
I think this experience informed both my respect for the individuals that live and work on the land, as well as my keen awareness of the varying levels of access to both frontline and specialist healthcare services in rural and remote communities. I think the Flying Doctor team embodies the qualities of Queenslanders; hard work, persistence and resilience.
I was brought up by parents who wanted to give back. My mother was always a strong believer in the importance of helping others less fortunate. My father always remembered those who had helped him during World War II. After retirement he volunteered regularly to assist returned servicemen as they aged. Simple things like hospital visits or helping with paperwork and tax returns.
I think we all need to remember where we have come from and those who have helped us on our journey. I also think we need to look for the simple, effective solutions that are often there, but might need some time to develop. By supporting a cause over a longer period, you can really see something grow and take shape.
The Flying Doctor motto of “the furthest corner, the finest care” really typifies the sort of organisation that I want to support and partner with. The RFDS is known for understanding health issues throughout the bush and delivering a service that really makes a difference in those communities.
Currently the greatest challenge facing people out west is drought. That will be front of mind for most people. Loneliness and isolation can affect people as well, especially when their farm is under financial stress. The challenges can be overwhelming. I am proud to partner with organisations like RFDS who directly change the lives of rural Queenslanders every day.
I started giving small donations to the RFDS as a private individual for many years, so once I started to think more seriously about giving back to the rural areas I love, it seemed natural to partner with the RFDS.
When we formed the QCoal Foundation our first priority was developing our RFDS dental partnership. I’m particularly proud that the dental service moved from just extractions and treatments to preventative dental care in many communities. I am also proud that advocacy by the RFDS and the QCoal Foundation resulted in the Commonwealth government seeing the value of the service and agreeing to fund it as a long-term solution to the lack of adequate dental care in rural and remote areas.
Learn more about QCoal's partnership with RFDS (Queensland Section)