Flying Doctor makes memories happen

Adjournment speech

November 19, 2021

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (13:51): (1667)

My adjournment is to the Minister for Health, and the action I seek is for the minister to meet with the Royal Flying Doctor Service regarding their palliative care program, Memory Lane, and how the government can provide support.

Who does not know, love and respect the Royal Flying Doctor Service and their work? This trusted organisation is committed to connecting communities with the care and support they need and with one another. I had the pleasure to recently meet with the CEO, Scott Chapman, to talk about the broad range of services they provide across our regional communities. They are well known for their remote patient transport service, and their planes make frequent trips to Mildura, Albury-Wodonga and interstate. But with 700 staff around Victoria plus an army of volunteers, flight services represent only around 14 per cent of their work, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service also offers community transport, dental clinics, telehealth, eye care, a women’s GP service and speech therapy.

The Flying Doctor Memory Lane program is something extremely special and supports patients in end-of-life care to visit a place that is meaningful to them. An example from my electorate is Jack. Jack was in palliative care in Rochester after spending 92 years on his farm. The Memory Lane team fulfilled his dying wish to return to the farm one last time. The team decorated the inside of the transport vehicle with eucalyptus leaves. They took Jack back to his farm, and he was able to spend some time inside his home and with his family, be in his garden with memories of his wife, who had planted roses, and look down his long driveway one last time. It gave him time to reflect and to say goodbye. Five days later Jack passed away.

The family was so grateful they had the chance to fulfil his last wish. This is something they could not facilitate safely for Jack on their own. The last wishes of the dying are not usually elaborate; it is usually visiting a place of personal significance one more time. And this is not just about fulfilling these wishes for older citizens but applies to every age. The Memory Lane program relies on a team of volunteers and generous donations. I think this wonderful program could be made available more broadly across the state, and I encourage the government to explore these opportunities. In the meantime I thank the volunteers and the team at the Royal Flying Doctor Service for all their wonderful hard work.

Watch Jack’s story – a Royal Flying Doctor Service ‘Memory Lane’ video clip.