Our History

The Rural Doctors Foundation story

Our story starts with a small number of rural doctors including Dr John Hall and Dr Dan Halliday who believed that access to life-saving health and wellbeing should always be available. In times of crisis, in times of hardship, and importantly, no matter how remote the location. This dedication to equality for remote and rural Queenslanders is the spark that ignited Rural Doctors Foundation at the time. And it continues to fuel our cause. A cause that is growing as we expand to support those living in rural and remote communities across Australia. 

Dr Adam Coltzau, Dr Dan Halliday and Dr Tarun Sen Gupta established Rural Doctors Foundation (formerly RDAQ Foundation) in 2014.  They were later joined by Dr Sue Masel and in November 2014 this group became the first directors of the Foundation.

Our founders were on the Board of the Rural Doctors Association Queensland (RDAQ). This is an organisation that supports doctors working in rural and remote communities. The founding doctors are part of rural Queensland. So, they knew first-hand the beauty and difficulty of living and practicing in rural and remote communities.

The 2011 flood emergency

In December 2010 and January 2011, Queensland experienced unprecedented weather events. Storms, heavy rainfall, and flooding ravaged the State. Three quarters of the Council areas within Queensland were classified as disaster districts. Thirty-three people lost their lives, while three people also remain missing to this day.

In rural and remote Queensland, whole districts experienced flood damage. Many towns were cut off from access to health facilities. On the ground, local health professionals saw this heavily impact their own families as well as their clinics. Notably, in places that were only single-doctor districts.

At a time when their communities needed them most, doctors had either lost equipment, lost premises or were geographically isolated. For many rural doctors, it was all three. 

Certainly, in the city, people could raise their hands and help was on its way. Whole armies rallied around to support those in need. However, in the bush, there wasn’t an army to help. And often, your only doctor was in the same situation as you.

There were countless other stories from RDAQ member doctors of the difficulties in supporting rural communities during this time. In response, the RDAQ began preparations for establishing a health promotion charity. The charity would exist in times of disaster in order to be there when help was desperately needed.

The 2011 flood emergency

In December 2010 and January 2011, Queensland experienced unprecedented weather events, which saw storms, heavy rainfall, and flooding across the state. Three quarters of the Council areas within Queensland were classified as disaster districts. Thirty-three people lost their lives, and three people remain missing to this day.

In rural and remote Queensland, whole districts experienced flood damage and many towns were cut off from access to health facilities. On the ground, local health professionals, their own families and their clinics were heavily impacted – some single-doctor districts. At a time when their communities needed them most, doctors had lost equipment; had lost premises, or were geographically isolated.

In the city, people could raise their hand and help was on its way. Whole armies rallied around to support those in need. In the bush, there wasn’t an army to help. And often, your only doctor was in the same situation as you.

There were countless other stories of the difficulties RDAQ member doctors had in supporting those rural communities during this time. In response, the RDAQ began  preparations for the establishment of a health promotion charity to assist in times like this where help was desperately needed.

Making it official

In 2013, Dr Dan Halliday became the RDAQ secretary. At this time, he presented a proposal to the RDAQ membership to establish RDAQ Foundation. The aims of the charity were to address  gaps in support that exist in rural and remote community health. In times of crisis, and at any time of need. The membership enthusiastically supported the initiative at the 2014 Annual General Meeting. Outgoing RDAQ president, Dr Adam Coltzau was endorsed as the inaugural chair of RDAQ Foundation (now Rural Doctors Foundation).

Initially, the founders established a Board of three directors. In 2015, the Foundation achieved DGR status. This status formally recognises the Foundation as a deductible gift recipient by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and the Australian Taxation Office.

Dr John Hall went back to the RDAQ Board. He was then appointed President of the RDAA in 2019. Following this, Dr Dan Halliday was appointed as Chair of Rural Doctors Foundation.

Today, we have a strong team of nine (9) Directors supported by a General Manager and a small executive team. 

Filling the gaps in rural and remote health

Currently, Rural Doctors Foundation initiates and enables new approaches to address health inequities in rural and remote communities. The volunteer Board remains committed to a lean organisation. One which prioritises action-based initiatives that deliver real outcomes.

We offer help on the ground, to health professionals and their communities, where it’s needed most. This includes:

  • Funding grants

    for those with innovative ideas which can improve health outcomes in rural and remote communities.

  • Vital health services

    in remote communities including health checks and research in order to understand rural health needs.

  • Funding for purchase of life-saving equipment

    in rural and remote communities

  • Mental health services

  • Specialised emergency response services.

We offer help on the ground, to health professionals and their communities, where it’s needed most. This includes:

  • Funding grants

    to those with innovative ideas that will improve health outcomes in rural and remote communities.

  • Vital health services

    in remote communities including health checks and research to understand rural health needs.

  • Funding for purchase of life-saving equipment

    in rural and remote communities

  • Mental health services

  • Specialised emergency response services.

It is our vision for more people to enjoy healthy lives and access to quality local care. Because we are doctors living in and caring for rural and remote communities. Through innovations, research, and inspiration we support communities to advocate for themselves. As well as, identify where their needs are best met.

Our history, and our success has been possible because of the dedication of some great people.

Find out about the people behind Rural Doctors Foundation.