Press Releases

New RFDS Healthy Living Program Takes Off in Port Augusta

23 August 2007


On Thursday 23 August 2007 at 1.30pm the Royal Flying Doctor Service will launch its new Healthy Living Program for remote South Australia in partnership with the Li Ka-shing Foundation at the Port Augusta Airport.

The Foundation has committed to providing $3 million to the RFDS to fund the 10-year program which will promote, encourage, and support healthy lifestyle changes in the north and far west regions of South Australia.

A newly-badged RFDS aircraft featuring the Li Ka Shing Foundation livery will be on display for the official dedication ceremony which will be attended by RFDS Central Operations Chairman, David Hills and CEO John Lynch, in addition to the Chairman of the Program Management Committee and ETSA Utilities Chairman Peter Tulloch and CEO Lew Owens.

“The RFDS is the largest and most comprehensive aero-medical organisation in the world, providing a crucial lifeline to those who live, work and travel in rural and remote Australia,” Mr Tulloch said.

“With a long history of promoting educational, health and humanitarian initiatives around the world, the Li Ka Shing Foundation is committed to supporting pioneering projects that foster a better society. We believe that this long-term initiative will bring immense benefits to the community.”

Also attending the ceremony will be Program Ambassador Brett Burton, the high-flying Adelaide Crows star. Brett said he was proud to be involved in a program that will deliver real benefits to remote communities in South Australia.

“Helping the RFDS to spread a message about the benefits of an active lifestyle and a good diet will provide long-term health improvements,” he said.

Joining Brett as a Program Ambassador will be Peta Scholz, a star of the Adelaide Thunderbirds netball team who represented Australia 54 times. She too knows the benefit of a healthy lifestyle and looks forward to the program and the outcomes that it will help to deliver.

The Healthy Living Program will target participants of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal descent living in remote South Australia and will actively promote the benefits of increased physical activity and improved dietary intake whilst providing regular access to important health education.

This is a unique, hands-on program that will involve the RFDS employing two additional staff – one of whom is a lifestyle trainer and the other the project coordinator. They will devote their resources exclusively to this project of improving people’s health by encouraging lifestyle changes over a sustained period.

Some changes in lifestyle habits may appear simplistic but their effect can be quite dramatic. Even basic forms of physical activity such as walking can achieve significant beneficial outcomes.

The project will initially target 1,000 participants who reside in remote South Australian communities where the combined total population is approximately 10,000. As the project becomes established new families and participants will be recruited.

Each person involved will be regularly monitored to assess changes in their condition and to be provided with guidance and support to encourage on-going commitment to the Program.

In Australia, significant differences exist in the health status of Australians living in remote areas versus those in metropolitan areas and also between Aboriginal versus non-Aboriginal Australians. Reducing these differences is a priority for this Program.

By addressing a range of obesity-related issues, improved health outcomes anticipated include reduced complications of diabetes, improved blood pressure control and reduced levels of cardio vascular disease. These outcomes will support the broader aims of the Royal Flying Doctor Service to improve health through enhanced preventative health care programs across regional South Australia.

The Li Ka-shing Foundation was established by Mr Li Ka-Shing in 1980. Since its establishment, the Foundation and other private charitable Foundations set up by Mr Li have supported numerous charities around the world with commitments of over AUD 1.4 billion.

Mr Li is founder of the Cheung Kong Group, of which Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Limited (a part owner of ETSA Utilities) is a member.

Commenting for the RFDS, John Lynch said, “This Program is aimed at serious health related issues currently faced by those living in remote areas. The long-term support offered by the Li Ka-shing Foundation will allow us to facilitate the generational changes necessary to improve the overall health of residents in these communities.”

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