Thursday, January 24, 2013

Royal Flying Doctors and The School of the Air

Australia is a large continent geographically and its population is mostly concentrated in the large cities.  Central Australia, by contrast is very sparsely populated.  Until our visit there, I'd never thought about how people live in these remote areas.  How do they get medical care?  Where do they go to school?

These two questions were answered for us during our visits to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and The School of the Air.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides free medical services to people who live and work in remote parts of Australia.  Each plane is outfitted like a flying emergency room.  They are ususlly staffed by a nurse and a pilot.  In more remote areas they also have planes equipped as intensive care units.  According to the Australian government's website, in 2005 the organization treated 234,783 patients, an average of 643 a day.

The School of the Air provides education to children who live in remote communities.  It was established in 1948 in Alice Springs.  After a few years the School of the Air was officially established.  Before this time, children in remote areas would either have to attend boarding school or complete their lessons by mail.  In 2005 there were more than sixteen schools of the air located in Australia.  Each teacher tries to visit the home of each student once a year and the children and their families try to meet once each school year.  The rest of their contact is over the computers. This schooling costs the Australian government approximately $10,000.00 per student.

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