I love so many facets of our Aussie culture that it is hard to pick just one – but the ability to roll up our sleeves and just get a job done is right near the top of my list. You see this in so many areas and our innovative approaches to problem solving are well known around the world. One example is CSIRO’s $430 million earnings (so far) from their wireless patent with every Wi-Fi device on the planet using this technology. Our Royal Flying Doctor Service is another brilliant example of a unique solution. Our service clubs (Rotary, Lions, Apex etc.) and a huge number of charity organisations see a problem and just get in and solve it. Problems are not solved by complaining about them – problems are solved by solutions.

I often talk about the financial help that local governments across the nation receive from volunteers (Dubbo City Council has some 400 active volunteers) but I also see governments at every level given incredible assistance by the fundraising efforts of various organisations and individuals. In fact, the Charities Aid Foundation published a report in December 2012 called the World Giving Index and it ranked Australia in first position ahead of Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Australia has approximately 76 per cent of its population donating money with around 0.4 per cent of the average wage donated to charities.

When you combine a can-do attitude with a generous nature, it means that projects not funded or not deemed worthy by governments are often undertaken by charitable organisations. One such process that is occurring at the moment – and that involves our entire region – is the work being performed by the committee of the Dubbo Base Hospital Accommodation Project Inc. (with our hospital’s name change I am not sure if this committee will require a name change as well).

Less than 50 per cent of the admissions to Dubbo Health Service, Dubbo Hospital (the new name doesn’t really roll off the tongue) actually come from the 2830 postcode. Most of the admissions come from our drawing region – the people from the smaller towns north and north-west of Dubbo that rely so heavily on our City as a service centre (in the same way we rely on those towns for their economic injections into Dubbo).

One of the often identified issues is when expectant mothers or patients preparing for surgery come to Dubbo from the region, it becomes quite expensive to stay in standard motel accommodation. Similarly with patients released from hospital, who may need several days to establish their post-treatment routines with specialists in Dubbo before returning home.

Rather than sit back and bemoan the lack of suitable patient accommodation, Dubbo Health Council chairwoman Elizabeth Allen and other supporters formed an eight-member committee to raise the money to build the accommodation unit. Rod Crowfoot, the Chairman of the committee, will use his real estate expertise to ensure the best value for money unit is built to house at least 20 people at any one time.

With more than $80 million of government money currently being spent on the hospital (and realistically another $160 million needed), the committee realised that chasing government money for the project was a long-shot. Instead, they have turned to the community to solve what is essentially a government problem. But that is what Aussies do – solve the problem!

The first major fundraiser for the project is one that may require some hospital admissions. Across NSW there are Regional Organisations of Councils – known as ROCs. The ROC in our Orana region is called OROC. For many years the 11 Councils that made up OROC were Dubbo, Gilgandra, Warrumbungles, Coonamble, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Cobar, Bogan, Warren, and Narromine, but just last month Wellington joined OROC as well.

Showing the type of commitment we would expect from true Aussies, the Mayors from all 11 previously mentioned Councils have committed to riding their bicycles – relay style – through the entire 1,122km of their Council areas. That is a good commitment in any language – but when you consider the average age of this group of Mayors is over 65 with some Mayors into their 80s, you can see why the hospital should be on high alert during the event.

With the participation of other community members and fundraising functions at each town along the way, the Toyota Tour de OROC, being run from 7-12 October, is aiming to raise $100,000 towards the accommodation unit project. Not only will it be a true regional fundraising effort, but it will also demonstrate what a huge area the Dubbo Health Service, Dubbo Hospital services.

I wish this committee – and every fundraising committee across Australia the best of luck in achieving outcomes. If you want more information on being involved in the Toyota Tour de OROC, don’t hesitate to contact me at mayor@dubbo.nsw.gov.au.

Clr Mathew Dickerson

Mayor of the City of Dubbo


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