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​Santos has proudly supported the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to deliver the first of two ‘Wellbeing Fly-Around’ events, bringing mental health and wellbeing services direct to some of the most remote parts of the Australian outback.

Last month an RFDS (South-eastern section) plane full of health care specialists and expert equipment took to the skies to stop in and spend a few days in different locations around the Cooper Basin, providing access to services that would otherwise not be on offer in these isolated parts of the country. Locals were encouraged to take some time out to check in on their mental health and wellbeing, and had the opportunity to access rare services such as dermatology, hairdressing, beauty therapy, massage and mental health support.

The first part of the Wellbeing Fly-Around visited Bollards Lagoon Station and spent two days at the RFDS clinic in Innamincka where the local community and those from surrounding stations were able to book ahead or just walk in on the day. The second part of the Fly Around will visit stations Naryilco and Epsilon.

As a result of the Fly Around event, 92 per cent of people who provided feedback agreed or strongly agreed that the event increased their awareness of mental health and wellbeing services offered by the RFDS within their community. Across three days, 41 skin checks were completed.

”I learnt how important it is to make time for myself and my mental wellbeing” – participant, Bollards Lagoon.

”I am less likely to talk being a male like me. Drought is difficult, it creeps up on you and you don’t realise the damage it is doing to you. Speaking with someone like Jane (RFDS Mental Health Peer Worker) made me comfortable to speak because she’s from the land and understands what I am going through” – participant, Innamincka.

RFDS Executive Director Frank Quinlan said, “the prevalence of mental ill health in remote and rural Australia is similar as that in major cities. However, suicide completion and self-harm rates are higher in remote and rural Australia, with residents of very remote areas twice as likely to die from suicide as city residents. Farmers, young men, older people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians face the greatest risk of suicide.”

Mental health services in remote areas are becoming increasingly important. After years of drought and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, more families in the outback are requesting vital services offered by the RFDS to develop coping strategies.

Providing on the ground, face-to-face support to these communities is critical and Santos is proud to be the principal sponsor of this initiative, helping bring these important services to the rural and remote communities where we operate.