It is up, up and away for our world-renowned Royal Flying Doctor Service as it is equipped with a flight simulator as part of the first aeromedical training facility in Australia. This combines technology, tourism and training for pilots, doctors and nurses under one roof in Dubbo. The $18 million South Eastern Section project includes a Flying Doctor tourism and visitor centre and the flight simulator will be open to the public so they can experience what flying a plane is really like.
It is a result of a collaborative funding effort including the NSW Government, the RFDS South Eastern, Dubbo City Council, Elbit Australia and the Dubbo Support Group. The Dubbo Support Group has generously contributed $1.1 million to the new facility after holding donations in trust.
We will be better able to train the pilots that respond to our rural patients in need, while enhancing the visitor experience in the Central West. RFDS pilots must travel to the United States to keep their training current. This will save the RFDS huge amounts of time and money – as well as keeping pilots close to respond to any emergencies. The Royal Flying Doctors has been expanding facilities and clinic services in the South Eastern Section as part of their plan to reduce the well-documented gap in health and wellness between those living in remote, rural and regional areas and those in the cities.
As we address the tyranny of distance this week, I urge you all to consider making a difference to our freight links. We are kick-starting the $400 million Fixing Country Rail program with a new pilot open to any rail upgrade idea in regional NSW. And who knows regional NSW better than you? All those with good local knowledge of rail in their area should consider submitting an Expression of Interest to fund necessary upgrades to improve access, productivity and growth.
Natural disaster hazards are a fact of life in Australia but working together, we can reduce the impact of future disasters. With my Federal counterparts, we also announced $2.59 million for new projects to deal with bush fire in NSW. Bushfires can be devastating and I’m pleased local governments, NSW National Parks and NSW Lands are receiving this funding.