Following from The King’s Birthday Honour List on the 12th of June, in which three Yass Valley residents were commemorated, former Yass Valley resident Dr Fergus Gardner, a leading member of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, was recognised for his service to medicine and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal.


The King’s Birthday Honour List is an official recognition of individuals throughout Australia, released on the King’s Birthday public holiday.  The list includes awards such as General Division of the Order of Australia, Meritorious Awards, Recognition of Service (military awards, etc), and others. 2023’s Honours List included 1,192 recipients.


Dr Gardiner spoke to the Yass Valley Times about his service to the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service, his connection to the Yass Valley, his reaction to the award, and how he intends to use the recognition to better serve communities moving forward.


“I felt very surprised and humbled”, said Dr Gardiner on his reaction, commenting further;


“We do our work not for expecting recognition like this, and initially I felt very humbled and privileged, and I think it really reflects my mentality in a lot of ways in aiming to give back to my community and particularly to rural and remote community members throughout Australia. I felt very humbled and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet”

Dr Gardiner explains his service, noting not any particular action that resulted in his acknowledgement but a period of service to communities throughout the covid pandemic.


“My Order of Australia Medal was for service to medicine. I’m a public health doctor, and over the last three years I’ve been leading our Royal Flying Doctor Service National Covid Response.”


“We did the first air medical retrieval for covid in the world and since then we’ve done well over 9000 retrievals on the road and in the air and provided vaccines in over 400 communities, mainly remote communities and some of the hardest to reach. The main reason for my award was just for recognition for coordinating our covid response. It’s absolutely fantastic”.


Dr Gardiner grew up on a Murrumbateman property, moving further into Yass for his education at Yass High School. At the age of 17, Dr Gardiner joined the Australian Armed Forces, remaining for a number of years before retraining in medicine. Dr Gardiner has been with the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service for seven years.

Going forward, Dr Gardiner feels that the award should only further his efforts to assist communities, regional and further, seeing it as a way to give back to the country and his general service as a highlight.


“I want to continue to serve the Royal Flying Doctors service, I feel like my role at the RFDS was made for me and it does give me a direct opportunity to give back, particularly in healthcare. A big part of my role is recognising communities and patients in need, and then providing or at least coordinating medical assistance to those communities. I want to use this award to continue to do that work.”


“I think being given the opportunity to provide a bit of a mantle of safety for our rural communities and being able to provide assistance during a time of heightened need, working with local clinicians and my team throughout Australia will forever be a highlight of my life and particularly with my career.”


Griffin Palen