Elders and RFDS partnership takes off

Agribusiness Elders has announced the launch of a major sponsorship of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Central Operations.

The new partnership was launched at the RFDS’ aeromedical base at Adelaide Airport.

Elders chief executive Mark Allison says that through its significant investment in the RFDS, Elders will be further supporting its clients, employees and the communities in which the 178-year-old company operates.

“Elders and the RFDS share so much in common in terms of their commitment to rural and regional Australia, especially the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the people who live in these communities,” Mr Allison says.

“It is only natural that a company such as Elders – whose roots are firmly entrenched in the rural landscape – supports an organisation such as the RFDS which provides emergency medical and primary health care services to those who live, work or travel in rural and remote Australia.”

In recognition of the new partnership, a RFDS aircraft bearing the Elders logo was unveiled during the launch. The medically-equipped aircraft, VH-FXW (Foxtrot-X-ray-Whiskey), is one of 67 RFDS aircraft spread across the country.

“It’s remarkable to think this RFDS ‘flying intensive care unit’ conducts two flights every day – and our board, our management and our employees are really proud to be playing a role in helping to make that happen,” Mr Allison says.

“With Elders on the ground supporting country communities and the RFDS in the skies above doing the same, our partnership is the perfect fit.”

RFDS Central Operations Deputy CEO Tony Vaughan says the significance of Elders’ financial support is that it will reach far and wide – and deliver lasting community benefit.

“The RFDS conducts over 100 aeromedical flights across Australia every day – but it relies on the support from the community to keep its crews in the sky,” Mr Vaughan says.

“Our association with Elders staff and branches supporting bush fundraisers stretches back decades, and it’s terrific to have the company also supporting our work in this tangible manner,” he says.

“Elders’ sponsorship will directly support our capital-raising program for on-going upgrade of our fleet of medically-equipped aircraft that deliver emergency aeromedical services throughout South and Central Australia.”

Mr Allison says the RFDS partnership is an important new initiative under the Elders Give It program which also supports two other key not-for-profit organisations – Landcare and beyondblue.

The Give It program is designed to funnel funds from Elders employee payroll donations and fundraising events into three organisations which have significant impacts on rural and remote Australia.

Mr Allison says each partner was chosen carefully based on their relationship with the communities in which Elders employees and clients live and work.

“Australia is an amazingly unique landscape where the distance that divides our cities and towns is both a beautiful feature and an incredible challenge,” says Mr Allison.

“Each of these partners work to minimise the impact that distance has on access to services in rural locations, whether it be a GP checkup, emergency health care, or support for anxiety or depression,” he says.

“Visiting the RFDS base and seeing the extraordinary work they do to provide primary and emergency health care to locations that would otherwise be almost inaccessible, really reinforced this idea for me.

“The common factor between our partners of choice is that they all play an active role in supporting rural communities. Not only are these areas where we do business, it’s where our people live, it’s where their friends are, where their families are – so ensuring these locations have long-term support is important to us.”

Elders has nationally embraced its charity partners through fundraising events and initiatives across branches around Australia, including the company’s head office in Adelaide.

Elders’ General Manager People Innovation and Brand, Karen Ross, says that a benefit of the Give It program is that rather than simply donate funds, it allows employees to take part in activities that support their environment or community, depending on the time or resources they have at hand.

“Grass roots activities like this will now be more accessible to our employees, providing a way for teams to take action at a local level,” says Ms Ross.

“We want everyone to have the ability to give back no matter their personal circumstance – whether they’re time poor and want to donate, or they’re are able to lend a hand and gather resources to help with a local project.

“This program is essentially about community support – giving people the resources they need to access help, or provide help, wherever they are,” she says.

Many Elders branches already engage actively in local sponsorships, but the Give It program will formalise arrangements and provide more avenues for employee support, according to Mr Allison.

“I’m excited about the prospects this program has to help our key partners in their missions, as well as encouraging our people to dedicate time and resources towards their local communities,” he says.

“As a large Australian business and an iconic brand in rural Australia, it’s our priority to properly invest in and care for the communities in which we operate.

“Elders Give It is a strong example of this commitment, and I’m encouraged by the potential it has to drive a stronger culture of corporate giving within Elders, and support people and communities in need.”