BUSHkids Annual Report 2020-2021

Neil completed the organisational transformation which his father Reg had started in the 1980s. He was instrumental in guiding the organisation through its de-institutionalisation restructuring in the 1990s, as it fundamentally changed its service provision model, moving away from supporting children in residential homes on the coast in favour of providing holistic services to families through service centres with multidisciplinary teams of therapists based in the rural communities where the children in need lived. Over the last 10 years as BUSHkids’ Chairman Neil has contributed to BUSHkids’ governance during a period of rapid growth which has seen it expand from a small nonprofit organisation providing services for fewer than 700 children a year from six locations, to a sophisticated organisation that today supports more than 7,000 children from more than 30 locations across Queensland. During this time, BUSHkids has further evolved a comprehensive range of services, expanded into complementary areas such as eKindy provision and Early Childhood Early Intervention as a Partner in the Community of the NDIS, and pioneered cutting-edge technology such as teleHealth. BUSHkids is now widely regarded as a leader in rural and regional children’s developmental health, not only in Queensland but around Australia. Neil has dedicated much of his personal time to making BUSHkids what it is today and deservedly received an OAM on Australia Day 2018 for his service to medicine in rural and regional areas. Neil runs a busy medical practice on the Gold Coast where he lives with his wife Annette and where they have raised their five children, but still devotes much of his free time to BUSHkids. “When I was a medical student, my father would come home from Bush Children’s Council meetings and we would talk. He taught me about the organisation, its aims, changes and challenges. That, I believe, is what gave me focus in my endeavour to give back to rural and remote communities.” Neil has first-hand personal and professional experience of the health needs of rural Queensland, having worked for five years in the small Central Highlands town of Dysart. “Asamedical practitioner I sawformyself theneedsandchallenges facing families and children in the bush. There is still a great need for accessible and affordable health and education services in rural and remote parts of Queensland. When I returned to live in the city I felt it was my obligation to give something back to the community.” Dr Neil J Bartels oam 30 years’ service As a Council member, Deputy Chair and Chair, Dr Neil Bartels has dedicated 30 years to supporting the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged children and families in rural, remote and regional Queensland, continuing a distinguished family legacy stretching back to 1966. Neil’s father Reg – who was also a recipient of an OAM – was actively involved with the Royal Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme (RQBCHS) for more than 25 years and was Chairman from 1973 to 1991. In 1992, Reg was also named as Queensland’s ‘Father of the Year’ with a beaming Neil in the middle background of this proud family’s historic photo. Neil joined the organisation’s Council in October 1991 and became the Deputy Chair in 1999 before being elected as Council Chair in 2007. A n n u a l R e p o r t 2 0 2 0–2 0 2 1 4

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