The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world. This year, the RFDS is celebrating its 90th anniversary and PJSE are thrilled to be producing their upcoming Going the Distance Dinner. Peter sat down with CEO, Scott Chapman, to talk about this wonderful organisation and what he loves about Melbourne for this edition of “White with one”.
Peter: How do you take your coffee?
My beverage of choice is green tea. I don’t drink coffee.
Peter: How long have you worked at RFDS and what is your background?
I’ve been CEO for 8 years and loved every minute of it! Previously, I was Director of Commerce and Marketing at the City of Melbourne for 10 years and before that, CEO of Southgate when it was first being developed. Believe it or not, I trained initially as a physical education and outdoor adventure high school teacher!
Peter: You’ve certainly been a part of Melbourne’s growth with all of those roles. Tell me about why the RFDS is an amazing place to work.
It is a true Australian icon and we are custodians of one man’s determination and dedication to create a “mantle of safety” across this entire country. The Reverend John Flynn worked from 1911 when he was first sent into the outback until finally the first flight in 1928 from Cloncurry to Julia Creek in Queensland. It took him 17 years of visitation, education, fundraising and agitation to get it of the ground off the ground – literally. This year is the 90th celebration of that first flight.
Peter: What are some of your proudest moments/highlights while working as CEO at RFDS?
Definitely our growth. As a Federation, each State has its own RFDS, in Victoria we were 6 fundraising staff when I started 8 years ago and now were 550 staff across a wide range of services in Victoria – the biggest of any state in Australia. Nationally RFDS look after 290,000 patients each year and this year in Victoria we transported 75,000 patients via our Mobile Patient Care by road and air. RFDS is also very involved in the provision of primary health services to rural and remote communities who do not have health services because of distance. We’re now offering a wider range of mobile health clinics including; Mobile Dental Care, Mobile Optometry, Diabetes Telehealth, Mental Health and much more by visiting small and remote communities throughout Victoria and Australia. At RFDS Victoria we also partner with many other charities to bring better cost effective programs and services to the community, including DOXA and Very Special Kids, to name a few. We all work together to help one another and that’s something I’m very proud of. Finally it’s tremendous to work for an organisation that has been recognised for the last 7 years in a row as the most Reputable Charity in Australia, which is a true reflection of what type of organisation it is.
Peter: What is your favourite event to attend in Melbourne?
I’m a bit of a film buff, so I attend as many film festivals as possible. Melbourne has so many that most people are probably not aware of – Melbourne, St Kilda, Indian, French, and Italian. I also don’t mind a Swans game, particularly if we win. I also attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service every year and consider that to be one of the most deeply reflective events one has the privilege to attend.
Peter: Why is Melbourne a great event city?
We have the most sporting, entertainment and theatre seats of any city in the world – from small 12 seat theatre spaces to the MCG. The best venues combined with a diverse range of offerings. There is something for everyone to attend no matter what you’re into.
Peter: What event is Melbourne missing?
I’d like to see a major music festival – along the lines of Glastonbury in the UK. I know we have a lot of smaller ones but let’s go big!
Peter: What’s another job you’d like to do in Melbourne?
I’d love to be a walking tour guide of the history of Melbourne’s criminal past. I love a good “whodunit” and would find it fascinating to know more about the places and people who lived just outside of the acceptable.
Peter: What Melburnians do you admire?
In my role, I meet and hear from many people who literally stop me in my tracks with their generosity. It is the donations from people who send in a small donation and write in to apologise that they cannot give more, and then I see their address is an aged care centre. As well as those who will send in a large donation but wish to remain anonymous. It is a privilege to be associated with such generous people in our society. I admire the everyday person with a good heart the most!
Peter: Where is your favourite place to go for tea?
Wherever I can get a Devonshire tea – a green Devonshire tea. The Hopeton Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade and the Windsor Hotel make me feel very relaxed.
Peter: Scott, thank you so much for your time today.
Tickets for the RFDS Going the Distance Dinner on Thursday 23rd August are still available and can be purchased here – https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/vic/events/event-2/