Guest blogger: Saadia Thomson Dwyer – Queensland State Archives
This May marks the 87th anniversary of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). The RFDS quickly became a lifeline for the people of outback Queensland and other remote areas. It was founded by Rev John Flynn, a minister with the Presbyterian Church with a vision to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ for people living in remote areas. On 15 May 1928, his dream became a reality with the opening of the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service in Cloncurry. Another anniversary for the RDFS is on 22 June 2015, marking 51 years since the original Cloncurry base operations were relocated in 1964 to Mt Isa.
Although the RFDS began in Queensland, the Queensland branch was not registered in its own right until 1939. The organisation was renamed the Flying Doctor Service in 1942 and received the Royal Charter in 1955, adding the prefix ‘Royal’.
During the Bicentennial year John Flynn Place was officially opened by the visiting Duke and Duchess of York to commemorate the achievement of the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
Today the RFDS owns a fleet of 61 aircraft with the very latest in navigation technology and operates 21 bases across Australia servicing over 270 000 patients.
While the RFDS was never a government organization, information about it does crop up in records held at Queensland State Archives. For example, some of its activities are documented in the Auditor General’s audit reports Item ID 2076580, Reports – audit: Flying doctor service of Australia (Queensland) – Charleville and we hold a map showing the radii for Flying Doctor services at Camooweal and Cloncurry (Item ID 630140) and an architectural drawing for the Charleville Base (Item ID 108908)