Graphic: Close the Gap Day
For more than 90 years, the RFDS has been privileged to be welcomed into the lands of many, varied Aboriginal communities in WA to deliver our care. Aboriginal people make up one third of our patient retrievals in WA and our clinicians treat more than 9,000 Aboriginal patients via our Primary Health Care clinics. Here are some stories from our crew.
When Royal Flying Doctor Service immunisation nurse Jane Livissianos delivers vaccines to the remote East Pilbara, she watches as communities appear in the aircraft window.
“You’re just looking out at a whole lot of nothing for a long, long, long time,” she says.
“Then all of a sudden there’s this little block of houses and a footy field—you can always see the red footy field.”
Jane has travelled from Broome to the remote communities of Kunawarritjii, Punmu, Jigalong and Pungurr (Cotton Creek), delivering the COVID-19 vaccine and education for remote nurses on how to prepare and administer it.
“These are extremely remote parts of the Pilbara,” she says. “You don’t casually drive through these places on your way anywhere, they’re well off the beaten track.”
Graphic: Dr Steve Hill
RFDS WA roving dentist Steve Hill feels lucky to see so much of regional and remote WA through his work.
His patients are located in the remote communities of Warburton, Wiluna and in the Kimberley and Midwest region.
No one shift is ever the same where Steve uses a range in modes of transport to get to this patients. This includes a 4WD, the RFDS’ dental van and light aircraft.
Steve said after nearly six years in the job, he’s gotten used to seeing the same people when he visits the remote towns and enjoys building relationships with his patients.
Graphic: claire ellery
Journeying into some of the most isolated communities in Australia and around the world, our crews often return enriched by their experiences and encounters.
RFDS WA Immunisation nurse Claire Ellery (rightmost) and the team work closely with local health services such as WA Country Health and Aboriginal Medical Services to ensure vaccines reach the people who live far from medical care.
“Missions in the Pilbara and Kimberley can be hot, sticky and exhausting. The flies are relentless and your uniform sticks to your back with sweat rolling down your face," Claire says.
"Thirty-five degrees is a cool day for us but the significance of the program is always in our minds.”
Pictured here with Senior Martu Leader Muuki Taylor in Newman.
Graphic: Glenys Cocivera
“Teamwork and the camaraderie amongst RFDS crews makes working for the Flying Doctor special," says RFDS WA immunisation nurse Glenys.
"Often our pilots who fly us into a remote community jump right in and work alongside us to engage with the local community, cooking up and handing out sausage sizzles.
"As you can imagine, all the kids love our pilots in their uniform and think they are super cool.”