News Archive: Aug 2017

The Meandarra Ride – “it was easy!”

Posted on 28th August 2017


No one could ask for more excitement in a town boasting fewer than 350 residents, or for more community pride and hard-earned satisfaction than marked the end of the terrific Girls Got Heart registered charity’s three-day, 400-plus-kilometres Brisbane to Meandarra bicycle ride for Heart of Australia.

Passing road-train drivers honking up a wall of sound as they passed, a stately police escort, all the local primary school kids waving welcome balloons, a small camera-loaded drone filming action video, husbands, children, partners, parents and friends of the riders, as well as bemused Grey Nomads from the local van park – all welcoming 34 elated ladies who stayed on course through the marathon ride. 

They “officially” finished their 444km ride involving climbs totalling 3000 metres, on August 18 on the side of Meandarra’s main street in the shadow of the Heart of Australia clinic-on-wheels – where Dr Rolf and clinic staff were working through a packed patient list.

When Dr Rolf asked the weary women “how was it?, they smiled as one and shouted back “it was easy”.

Then it was into group photographs and a tour through the Heart Truck before the Girls saddled up for a final 7km ride to the picture-perfect Uralla property and preparations for that night’s pig-on-a-spit dance party – and what happened there stays there!

Dr Rolf says of the events: “Of all the many gestures of support from all the communities we visit, this magnificent ride effort just blows us away and my team and I just can’t find the words of appreciation it deserves; it’s a wonderful, humbling thing, such determined support for our work for the people of the bush – thank you.”

And the bottomline?

Ahead of the ride, Brisbane-based Girls Got Heart founders Rebecca East and Keely Mancini announced that the ride, titled Heart of Uralla 2017, already had attracted more than $100,000 in support – a handsome increase over their target of $55,000.

Even before the August 16 start of the ride in Brisbane, six determined volunteer riders from Toowoomba – Bella Reynolds,Sarah Austin, Elissa Walker, Katrina McNalty, Therese Blades and Lesley Goff – were “beefing up” the plan.

They arranged for Dr Rolf to speak at a “Feast of Beef” lunch on August 4 at Fitzy’s Toowoomba, a special feature being beef on the menu from local supplier Mort and Co. 

The local Fairholme College, supporting the Toowoomba ladies in their fundraising efforts, arranged a lunch highlight of a special presentation of the famous song True Blue by Fairholme students.


Canberra steps up with recognition for bush service

Posted on 28th August 2017

The Federal Government has recognised the positive impact of the Heart of Australia program for rural and remote-area Queenslanders with a million-dollar grant towards “on-going costs”.

Project founder, Dr Rolf Gomes, welcoming the grant, said: “This will boost confidence for me and my team to push on with planning to add more services”.

In a typically low-key, country town meeting outside the Heart of Australia mobile clinic in Dalby on August 11, Dr Gomes welcomed visiting Assistant Federal Health Minister Dr David Gillespie MP and local-area Federal MP David Littleproud.

Dr Gomes said: “The inequity in medical access for rural patients is exactly what our Heart of Australia program is targeting … this new gesture of recognition from the Federal Government means that we can have confidence to consider expanding both our geographical reach across the bush and adding extra services for the people out there”.

He told Dr Gillespie that since the Heart of Australia launch in October 2014 “we have seen more than 3,300 patients during 850 local town visits; we have saved more than 120 Queenslanders suffering previously-undiagnosed critical cardiac conditions; and we have referred at least 30 patients for open heart surgery”.

Dr Gillespie said: “After practising medicine for 33 years, I can appreciate this impressive service Dr Gomes has developed for regional communities”.

Media reporters at the meeting pressed both Dr Gomes and Dr Gillespie about why the Queensland State Government has so far failed to help the Heart of Australia project.

Dr Gillespie said: “I call on the state Government to recognise this great service and offer all encouragement to the State to get on board”.

Dr Gomes, disclosing for the first time that Queensland Health has in fact referred more than 350 patients to Heart of Australia, said that “there’s certainly still a place at our table for the State Government”.

He added appreciation to Queensland Coalition Senator Barry O’Sullivan for “hard-working efforts in support of the Heart of Australia program”.