DESCRIBED as guardian angels in disguise, the Royal Flying Doctor Service mental health team’s hard work supporting people across Cape York has been recognised in a new independent review.
The review, conducted in 2022 by Freestone Associates and Pamele Analytics, provided evidence of the profound impact the Flying Doctor team has and showed for every $1 spent the community was receiving a $30 return in social value.
RFDS Far North Mental Health manager Jos Middleton said the report was validating for her team.
“It was so wonderful to read this report, the whole team was inspired by the results and proud of the fact this confirms that hard work does pay off and that the program and the clinicians within the program make a difference in people’s lives,” Ms Middleton said.
“The best part of our job is seeing the progress being made in the communities so being able to understand the big picture impact is truly inspiring.
“Armed with this review, we have the ability to hone in on the unique capabilities of our tailored approach to provide greater value back to the communities we serve.”
Ms Middleton said since the review, the team had revisited key high-impact areas which ensured continued quality service delivery.
“This includes increased access to critical services, which result in reduced drug and alcohol use for those who engage, reduced domestic violence and an improved understanding of mental health,” she said.
Ms Middleton said it was humbling reading stories of change in the report, including one program recipient who said her staff were like angels.
“He comes to my house, he’s a bit like a fairy angel, only hairier, and he helped me learn to deal with my emotions,” the recipient said.
The review contained feedback from individuals, their families, local organisations and stakeholders and showed that the RFDS’s successful approach was largely achieved through capable and experienced staff, culturally appropriate and localised context and building trust.
The RFDS Cape York mental health team is made up of 12 clinicians, including psychologists and mental health counsellors, social workers, nurses and an Indigenous training officer.
They visit Wujal Wujal, Cooktown, Laura, Lockhart River, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Napranum, Weipa, Mapoon and all five Northern Peninsula Area communities.
“It is such a privilege to do the work that we do and an honour to share the heavy stories that people trust with us on their healing journey,” Ms Middleton said.
To make a referral or find out more about the program, visit www.flyingdoctor.org.au/qld/what-we-do/mental-health/mental-health-far-north/ or call 4040 0444.
People can also join the closed RFDS Mental Health and Wellbeing Cape York Facebook group dedicated to Cape York for tips and tricks to support wellbeing.