Elders back-to-back support for bush communities - Elders Rural Services

Elders back-to-back support for bush communities

Elders has boosted its investment in the health and wellbeing of rural and regional communities with a three-year extension of its major sponsorship of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Central Operations (serving SA/NT).

Elders – last year named Australia’s most trusted agribusiness brand – will make another $300,000 contribution direct to the RFDS capital-raising program for the perennial upgrade of its fleet of flying intensive care units.

“Everyone at Elders is enormously proud to be continuing our support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in delivering its world-class medical care to rural and regional Australians,” said Bernard Seal, Elders State General Manager SA.

“Elders and the RFDS share so much in common in terms of their commitment to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of those who live, work and travel in these communities, including our staff, our clients – and their families,” Mr Seal said at the sponsorship announcement.

In recognition of its tangible support, the medically-equipped RFDS aircraft VH-FXW, or ‘Whiskey’ as it is known, will continue to airlift two patients a day throughout South Australia bearing the Elders brand on its fuselage.

Over the past year alone, ‘Whiskey’ has flown over 470,000 kilometres and airlifted almost 1,000 patients from 55 different regional and remote communities to specialist medical treatment.

The aircraft was also instrumental in the RFDS’ national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Guided by its crews, Whiskey alone has undertaken more than 60 COVID-19 related patient transfers since March last year.

Charlie Paterson, RFDS Executive General Manager Marketing & Stakeholder Relations, said the impact of Elders tangible support would reach far and wide, delivering long-lasting benefits to the community.

“Support from all corners of the community – our donors, fundraisers, corporate sponsors and volunteers – is critical to us meeting our financial challenges, so we’re delighted to have Elders continue its partnership with the Flying Doctor and the communities we both serve.”

VH-FXW is one of 20 aircraft operated by RFDS Central Operations located across its SA/NT network of aeromedical bases in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Alice Springs and Darwin.

With the capacity to transfer two stretchered and critically-ill patients at any point in time, ‘Whiskey’ will continue to serve the community through:

  • emergency evacuations of the injured or critically-ill from outback communities;
  • aeromedical transfers of patients interstate for life-saving surgery such as organ transplant and heart surgery on newborn babies;
  • delivery of essential primary health care such as GP consultations and immunisation of children during ‘fly-in’ health clinics to remote communities; and
  • transfer of patients from regional and bush hospitals to major hospitals in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Alice Springs and Darwin for higher levels of care.


“Most of my area is pastoral zone; my clients think the RFDS is the greatest thing on earth.” Tim Taplin – Elders Peterborough


“The RFDS was crucial for me, and we all know someone who’s been flown when they needed it most.” – Lachie James, Padthaway.

Learn more about Elders’ Community Partnerships program and how your community can become involved.