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Residents take to the sky

Written by Margot Taylor
on December 07, 2022

John Flynn Retirement Village residents proved it’s never too late to try something new when they took to the skies during a visit from the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).

About 80 residents, team members and friends of the village learnt about the history of the RFDS and service founder and village namesake John Flynn when a Pilatus PC-12 fuselage and Education Program Manager, Tom Ryan, and Manager Communication, Brand and Engagement, Jonathan Green recently touched down at the village.

Jonathan said the need for healthcare in remote Australian communities was as strong as it was when John Flynn founded the service in 1928.


“The RFDS was started on a fundamental basis that not everyone had fair and reasonable access to healthcare,” he said.

“Sadly, we find that still exists in Australia, which is why we are still around and why we do the work that we do.”

In the last financial year more than 330,000 people accessed a service through the not-for-profit.

While the goal to offer healthcare to people in remote parts of Australia remained the same, the service had evolved into offering primary and mental health support as well as emergency care.

“Our clinicians are based in communities from a few days to months,” Jonathan said.

“The benefit of that is people are getting care in their own communities, we’re taking away the distance issue, we’re taking away the concept of ‘I’ve got to take a day off work’.

“And the interesting thing you hear from people is they say ‘I love the fact that I’m getting to see the same person but they’re not actually local’, because for a lot of people if they’re going to talk to someone about their mental health they don’t really want to run into them at the supermarket.”

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Royal Flying Doctor Service Communication, Brand and Engagement Manager Jonathan Green speaks to John Flynn residents.


Jonathan said one of the newest programs, Memory Lane, gave people with a terminal illness or in palliative care, a chance to be transported in a vehicle equipped with oxygen and other medical equipment, to a place that held special meaning for them.

“It’s a beautiful way to give people that opportunity to reflect on and celebrate their lives,” he said.

Following the presentation eager residents hopped aboard a life-sized replica fuselage of a RFDS plane.

The simulator included communications, stretchers, oxygen, and suction as well as a cockpit complete with virtual flight controls.

Disembarking the plane John Flynn resident and former nurse Barbara James said the visit evoked memories of her time in the profession.

“I trained at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the 1960s and the RFDS used to fly in a lot of patients from the bush, mums and babies, people who had been gouged by bulls, all sorts,” she said.

“I never met John Flynn, but he was always being talked about because if the service hadn’t been available a lot of people would’ve died.

“So, for me it’s quite amazing living in a village named after John Flynn, I’m very proud.”

RFDS Education Program Manager Tom Ryan said he believed John Flynn would also be proud to be the village namesake.

“If John Flynn was still around today, I think he’d still be very ahead of his time and I think he’d be very proud to have the village named after him,” Tom said.

Residents and staff also attended the RFDS John Flynn luncheon, which was sponsored by Ryman.

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Ryman Area Sales Manager Angela Barraclough and Peter Hitchener at the John Flynn luncheon.


During the event, hosted by Flying Doctor Ambassador and Nine News presenter Peter Hitchener, Ryman Healthcare Area Sales Manager Angela Barraclough discussed the proud partnership between the organisations.

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