CareFlight unveils Indigenous Artwork on the NT Rescue Helicopter powered by Viva Energy 

CareFlight is today proud to unveil Indigenous artwork on its NT Rescue Helicopter powered by Viva Energy, reinforcing the aeromedical service’s commitment to reconciliation ahead of NAIDOC Week.

CareFlight’s commitment to reconciliation is central to the organisation’s mission to save lives and speed recovery, delivering better health outcomes in Australia. This is pointedly true in the Northern Territory, where the majority of our patients are First Nations peoples from remote communities across the Top End.

The flying symbolic artwork also highlights the commitment to reconciliation of Viva Energy Australia, the proud naming rights sponsor of the Rescue Helicopter.

Indigenous artwork is the first form of art in Australia and is used for storytelling, communication, and as a way to preserve culture. By featuring this art on its helicopter, CareFlight honours these traditions and initiates conversations that promote learning and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians today.

The helicopter, operated on behalf of the NT Government, now features stunning artwork by Dixon Patten, a proud Yorta Yorta and Gunnai man.

“This helicopter represents our commitment as an organisation to reconciliation action,” said CareFlight’s CEO, Mick Frewen.

“We hope it will serve as a conversation starter and be warmly welcomed by communities”, said Mr Frewen, a leading member of CareFlight’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group.

“A key component of reconciliation is timely access to quality health services based on need regardless of where people live. CareFlight is committed to providing that access to quality care in a culturally appropriate way”, he said.

“Our aspiration is for the helicopter to continue to deliver lifesaving medical care and develop a deep sense of pride and acknowledgment within the communities we serve.”

The artwork is rich in symbolism, representing diverse Indigenous communities and the positive impact of reconciliation efforts. It contains circles and infinity symbols that represent ancient cultural practices, while dots and lines that join these circles express family relationships and knowledge transfer. Ripples stand for positive energy in the community, travelling along the pathways and footsteps toward reconciliation led by the guidance of Elders. ‘U’ shape symbols speak to the collaborative nature of building relationships, with gum leaves representing respect for Traditional Custodians. Boomerangs, kangaroo, and emu tracks symbolise going back to the root of cultural heritage for wisdom and the community’s progress.

Peter Broschofsky, the chair of CareFlight’s RAP working group, added, “This initiative is a significant step in our ongoing journey towards reconciliation. We are committed to fostering understanding and respect for Indigenous cultures, and this artwork on our helicopter is a powerful symbol of that commitment.”

Operating as a vital lifeline for patients in remote and inaccessible areas, especially during the Territory’s wet season when ground access to communities is disrupted, the Rescue Helicopter serves as a beacon of hope empowering resilience of the communities we serve.

In a recent critical operation in remote East Arnhem Land, CareFlight responded to an urgent situation where a mother required assistance during Cyclone Megan. With the community inaccessible due to the storm, CareFlight partnered with Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Despite challenging weather conditions, CareFlight’s expert team, supported by a midwife, successfully delivered the baby. Both mother and newborn were evacuated to Gove Hospital for ongoing medical care, underscoring the helicopter’s vital role as their primary lifeline in remote communities.

“We take great pride in partnering with CareFlight on this significant initiative,” said Viva Energy CEO Scott Wyatt. “The helicopter, which we support through our partnership, now visually depicts our community program in action: supporting access to community services and our commitment to First Nations people and reconciliation.  The artwork is a symbol of how Australia is enriched by First Nations culture and it is fitting to launch this initiative in the lead-up to NAIDOC week, which celebrates and recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Thanks to the support of Viva Energy, CareFlight has been able to implement this initiative at no additional cost. This collaboration has allowed CareFlight to honour and celebrate Indigenous culture in a meaningful way. As the first charity aeromedical organisation to feature such significant artwork on its aircraft, CareFlight is setting a precedent in cultural recognition and community engagement.