National Volunteer Week

The Flying Doctor celebrates supporters and volunteers during National Volunteer Week

Date published

20 May 2022

After two years of delays and rescheduling, the Flying Doctor held its first regional event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with an afternoon tea in Bendigo. 

The event was held at the Bendigo Tennis Centre on Tuesday 17 May, which was both Flying Doctor Day (the 94th anniversary of our very first flight), and the second day of National Volunteer Week. 

The purpose of the event was to celebrate and thank RFDS Victoria’s many loyal and passionate supporters and volunteers, who are absolutely critical to the work the Flying Doctor does across the state. 

The event began with a Welcome to Country by Djaara Traditional Owner, Troy Firebrace. Maree Edwards MP, Member for Bendigo West, then took to the stage to a few words, and was followed by The Hon. Peter Walsh, Member for Murray Plains, and the Mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo, Andrea Metcalf. 

RFDS Victoria Chair, Brendan Richards, also shared a few thoughts on his vision for RFDS Victoria over the coming months, and RFDS Victoria Chief Executive, Scott Chapman spoke to the importance of Bendigo as a regional hub for our patient Transport service and our many primary health care programs. 

Also in attendance were a number of Community Transport volunteer drivers, MPC team members and Maree Wheaton, whose father Jack Smith took part in one of the very first Memory Lane journeys back in late 2020. 

The presentation also included an interactive panel discussion, which provided first-hand accounts from those involved in some of our volunteer programs. The panelists included Mick Thomas, who is a volunteer driver with our Community Transport service, Beth Mcilwain, who is the new Memory Lane Program Coordinator and volunteers for many of these journeys herself, and Hayley Wallace, who is the Community Transport Program Coordinator in Rochester. 

Following the panel discussion, guests enjoyed an afternoon tea while taking a look inside the Flying Doctor Flight Simulator and one of the Memory Lane vehicles, which had been parked outside for the event. 

This event was a long time in the making, having been postponed three times in the last 24 months due to Victoria’s rolling lockdowns and travel restrictions. However, these delays just made the afternoon all the more special, as the Flying Doctor team was finally able to speak face-to-face to the vital supporters and volunteers who help keep the Flying Doctor flying.