Racing Queensland’s Country Cups Challenge will reach new heights this year, forming a community partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service – Queensland Section (RFDS).
The Country Cups Challenge will now serve as an important fundraising initiative for the RFDS which has been saving lives in rural and remote Queensland for more than 90 years.
With the Country Cups Challenge poised to commence at Atherton on Saturday, the 16 qualifiers across the state will be utilised as fundraising opportunities, with clubs encouraged to support the RFDS through donation tins, raffles and other raceday related activities.
The new community partnership is expected to generate more than $500,000 for the iconic health care service over the next three years.
Racing Minister Grace Grace said she was proud to see Queensland racing partnering with the RFDS.
“With many of our 125 racing clubs across Queensland located in regional and remote parts of the state, this is a fitting partnership,” Ms Grace said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is a great supporter of the RFDS. In the most recent budget we announced a ten-year deal for an additional $334 million in funding for the organisation to assist in their work providing medical treatment to rural and regional Queenslanders.
“As we know, country racing clubs play an important role creating good jobs and enhancing the great lifestyle of our regional communities.
“I look forward to the Country Cups Challenge playing an important fundraising role for such an iconic organisation.”
Earlier this year, RQ confirmed its flagship summer racing series would expand, with prize money for the December 3 Final at Doomben doubling to $200,000.
The Country Stampede Final, which runs in conjunction with the Country Cups Challenge, will also receive a $30,000 increase to $105,000.
With more than 80% of the state’s 43,469 racing participants located in regional communities, RQ Chair Steve Wilson AM said partnering with the RFDS was an easy decision.
The new deal strengthens RQ’s existing ties to the RFDS, including a partnership for the Birdsville Races.
“Racing Queensland’s purpose is to champion great racing and events which connect Queensland communities,” Mr Wilson said.
“Across the Sunshine State, there are 85 towns each year who host a raceday as the biggest or second biggest event for that community’s social calendar, showcasing everything that is
great about local food, fashion and on-course entertainment.
“We see a natural synergy between the Country Cups Challenge and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and we are immensely proud to partner with them as we continue to support the communities that we work, race and play in.”
In the 16 communities across Queensland where the Country Cup Challenge series will be held, the RFDS provided care on more than 14,652 occasions in the last year alone, via aeromedical emergency care and patient transfers, primary health care, mental health care, telehealth consultations and immunisations.
This included almost 3,000 RFDS flights through local airports.
Cloncurry, which was where the first ever RFDS flight took off from 94 years ago, will host a Country Cups Challenge qualifier as part of this year’s series on October 7.
Of the community partnership, RFDS – Queensland Section CEO Meredith Staib was supportive of the initiative.
“The RFDS is dedicated to improving the health of people in regional, rural and remote Australia,” Ms Staib said.
“More than half of Queensland’s population live outside of the Greater Brisbane area and funds raised for the RFDS mean that those living in areas like those where the Country Cups Challenge events are held, can receive the healthcare they need while also being better connected to the State’s metropolitan hospitals.
“To continue to deliver this life-saving care to Queenslanders, no matter where they live – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals, community groups, businesses and the corporate sector.
“We are incredibly appreciative of this support from Racing Queensland’s Country Cups Challenge and the communities we serve.”
In addition to the 24/7 aeromedical retrieval of the critically ill or injured, the RFDS also delivers a broad range of essential primary and preventative healthcare services, including telehealth, mental health, oral health, and chronic disease management.
In Queensland, the RFDS provides healthcare services over an area of 1.73 million square kilometres.
They operate a fleet of 20 aeromedical aircraft from nine strategically located bases across the State – Cairns, Townsville, Mount Isa, Charleville, Longreach, Roma, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Brisbane.
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