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RRRCC News: Push for better bush communications bolstered with Royal Flying Doctor Service QLD joining the cause
17 June 2019
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) has joined other like-minded regional and rural organisations in the battle to improve internet and mobile phone connectivity.
"We're delighted that the much-loved and valued RFDS is now a member of the Rural, Regional & Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC)," Founding Coalition member, National Farmers' Federation, President Fiona Simson said.
"The RFDS provides vital services to Australians living in rural, regional and remote areas and has a living understanding of how telecommunications can transform lives."
To deliver its services the RFDS relies heavily on connectivity, not only for contact in emergency situations, but to deliver a wide range of services, including telehealth consultations and providing GPs with fast access to patient records.
RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Information Officer, Wolfgang Krause, has a personal passion for communication technology and its important role in supporting the mission of RFDS to provide the finest care to the furthest corner.
"RFDS Queensland is excited about joining forces with the RRRCC" Mr Krause said.
"It is so important to speak with one voice on these important issues, and to work together to push governments and communication providers to improve services in regional Australia."
Mr Krause noted that the RFDS had increased its focus on community wellbeing in recent years.
"We appreciate that connectedness and social participation is critical to good mental health – particularly when communities are facing huge challenges such as the recent drought and floods.
"We look forward to working with the RRRCC to advocate for fast, reliable, affordable data and voice services in regional, rural and remote Australia."
The RFDS has a long history of bringing connectivity innovations to the bush. In 1927, Alfred Traeger invented the pedal radio for the RFDS, a life-changing invention that enabled people living in remote areas to contact the Flying Doctor directly in medical emergencies.
This and the radio technologies that followed it provided a vital communication channel for remote Australians, reducing isolation and underpinning the establishment of the school of the air, a service that continues to this day, connecting children living in remote areas with teachers and other students.
"The RFDS is a fantastic organisation with a genuine understanding of the communications challenges faced by those living in the bush, and a proud history of leading the way in deploying communications technologies that have improved – and saved – the lives of many Australians," Ms Simson said.
"On behalf of all 21 member organisations I warmly welcome RFDS to the RRRCC."
"Since it was formed in 2016, the RRRCC has been highly effective in making the case for real investment and policy reform to strengthen regional telecommunications.
"The job is far from done, and the RRRCC – now 22 members strong and with huge breadth of expertise – will continue to advocate for rural, regional and remote Australians to have the communications access they deserve."
Ms Simson stressed that connectivity was not only essential for health and wellbeing, but to uncovering the true economic potential of rural, regional and remote Australia.
"The farm sector has a vision of $100 billion in output by 2030, and adoption of new digital technologies – enabled through connectivity – will be critical to achieving this vision."
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