Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Program

The Government has funded the RFDS since the 1930’s to deliver the RFDS Program, which includes provision of emergency aeromedical evacuation services in rural and remote Australia.

Page last updated: 15 June 2018

2018-19 - Guaranteeing rural and remote access to dental, mental health and emergency aeromedical services through the Royal Flying Doctor Service

In 2018-19, the Australian Government provided an additional $84.1 million in funding to the RFDS to increase the availability of dental services beyond March 2019, deliver new mental health services from 1 January 2019 and continue traditional services to rural and remote Australia.

This will mean that patients in rural and remote areas who would otherwise not have access to services will benefit through the assured availability of RFDS emergency aeromedical services, the introduction of mental health services and the continuation of outreach dental services. Visit the Department of Health website for more information on the 2018-19 budget measure.

The RFDS Program

The Program aims to support people living, working and travelling in rural and remote areas of Australia by ensuring access to emergency Primary Aeromedical Evacuations and other essential primary health care services where there are little or no other services.

It delivers sustainable, flexible, effective and efficient services to people in areas beyond the Normal Medical Infrastructure in locations of market failure by providing access to:

  • Primary Aeromedical Evacuations
  • Primary Health Clinics, including GP, Nursing and Allied Health services
  • Remote Consultations (via telephone / videoconference link)
  • Medical Chests (containing essential emergency medical supplies)

RFDS Dental Outreach Program

In 2016, the Government announced a dental outreach service to be delivered by the RFDS. In the 2018 Budget, through the ‘guaranteeing rural and remote access to dental, mental health and emergency aeromedical services through the Royal Flying Doctor Service’ funding was provided for the RFDS to continue to provide these dental services.

The dental outreach program aims to address the access gap for rural and remote populations.

It delivers:

  • fly-in, fly-out, or drive-in, drive out dental services to populations living in areas defined to be beyond the normal dental infrastructure and in areas of market failure; and
  • services that are planned and conducted based on need and program priorities in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and other service providers.

RFDS Mental Health Outreach Program

From 1 January 2019, a new Mental Health Outreach program will provide professional mental health services to areas where there are currently few or no services.

The aim of the Mental Health Outreach program is to support people living, working and travelling in rural and remote areas of Australia by ensuring access to mental health outreach services where there are little or no other services.

From 1 January 2019, it will deliver:

  • outreach mental health services in areas beyond the normal infrastructure and in areas of market failure; and
  • flexibly planned and conducted outreach mental health services based on need and in collaboration with local communities and other service providers.

General information

Which area of the Department provides funding to the RFDS?

The RFDS Program is managed by the Health Workforce Division, Department of Health.

Where do I get more information?

For more information on the RFDS and services provided please visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service website.