Graphic: Elders RFDS partnership extension
Elders Katherine Branch Manager Leo Neill-Ballantine knows all too well the impact the Flying Doctor has on rural, remote and regional communities.
While living and working at Tarlton Downs, a cattle station located halfway between Alice Springs and Mount Isa, Leo's then 16-year-old son, Jack, was airlifted after crushing his foot.
After spending most of life working on remote stations, since joining Elders in 2021, Leo continues to hear stories from employees and his agricultural service clients about the RFDS.
"Our son dropped a forklift tyne on his foot and the RFDS was very quick to respond – it was comforting for my wife and myself. Once you've had that experience, you have to take your hat off to the RFDS and admire what they do," Leo said.
"For our clients, particularly living in remote areas, it's such a great thing to know the RFDS is on-call, providing a service that's second to none."
Elders recently guaranteed its commitment to the health and wellbeing of rural and regional communities with a three-year extension of its major sponsorship of RFDS SA/NT.
First partnering with RFDS SA/NT in 2016, Elders has committed to a $450,000 contribution over the next three years to support the continual upgrade of Flying Doctor aircraft and life-saving equipment.
“Everyone at Elders is enormously proud to be continuing our support of the RFDS. Many of our people have had their own personal experiences with the Flying Doctor and if not, they certainly know someone who does,” Elders Chief Executive Mark Allison said.
“Elders and the RFDS share common goals and values in the commitment to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of those who live, work and travel in regional and remote communities – and that includes our staff, our clients and their families.”
In recognition of the major sponsorship, the medically-equipped RFDS aircraft VH-FXW, or ‘Whiskey’ as it is known, will continue to airlift two patients a day throughout South Australia bearing the Elders brand on its fuselage.
Over the past year alone, ‘Whiskey’ has flown more than half a million kilometres and airlifted more than 1,100 patients from 62 different regional and remote communities to specialist medical treatment.
The aircraft also demonstrated its unique capabilities by landing on the Eyre Highway in March 2023, responding to a critical car accident and saving one man's life.
RFDS SA/NT Executive General Manager Strategy, Brand & Reputation Charlie Paterson said the impact of Elders’ continued support was highly valued and would deliver long-lasting benefits to the community, city and country alike.
“Supporting happier and healthier Australians – regardless of where they live, work or play - is at the heart of everything the Flying Doctor does.
"We are proud to be associated with a strong, trusted and community-minded organisation - and workforce - such as Elders and we know their support will go a long way to assist remote and regional patients when they need it the most.”
VH-FXW is one of 19 aircraft operated by RFDS SA/NT located across its aeromedical bases in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Alice Springs and Darwin.