RFDS Dental Service

A decade of mobile dental care a real asset for the bush

Date published

10 May 2023

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is proud to give communities access to essential oral care and health education services.

For almost 100 years, The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) has worked tirelessly to connect people living in regional, rural and remote communities, to the finest health care and aeromedical services. 

In 2013, the RFDS identified a need for additional support through free preventative, oral care and health education services; and a purpose-built, mobile dental service was launched. 

A decade on, leading accountancy firm BDO has released its report into the economic, social and community impact of the Service with the results strongly highlighting the need to continue to provide mobile dental services into the future. 

In assessing the social and community impact, BDO completed a community impact assessment of four locations – Winton, Tambo, Sapphire and Cherbourg, with their analysis clearly supporting the need for a continuation of mobile dental services.

RFDS Dental Service staff

Report’s key findings

  • The RFDS Dental Service produced more than $15 million in economic and social benefit.
  • For every $1 of funding received, the service returns $1.80 of economic and social benefit.
  • With services at no cost to patients and travelling to remote communities, the Service provides direct financial relief to patients.
  • More than 15,000 patients treated from 19,000 appointments across 24 rural and remote communities.
  • A high percentage of patients reported improved dental and mental health outcomes.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib said the report shone a positive light on the important role played by the service since its introduction. 

“We’ve heard so many amazing stories from patients who’ve used the RFDS Dental Service over the past decade, telling us about the positive impact it’s had on their lives. 

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have great support from the Federal government and QCoal Foundation over the journey and I think there’s scope to grow the service even further in years to come,” Ms Staib said. 

RFDS Dentist

The RFDS Dental Service’s Founding Donor QCoal Foundation said the report confirmed the enhanced social and community benefits generated by the Service, particularly strengthened community resilience through flow-on mental health benefits and broader health outcomes.   

“The report also further confirms our understanding that the RFDS Dental Service model overcomes the challenges of accessibility, affordability and attitudes that can prevent community members accessing oral healthcare. 

“It is no surprise to us that our communities value the contribution of our long-term partner, the RFDS, who were universally commended on their service delivery and approach. This level of trust remains key to effective service delivery.”

The RFDS acknowledges the support of QCoal Group, QCoal foundation and the Australian Government in establishing the RFDS Dental Service in 2013.