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Social Change Champion: Paul Adams

We sat down with Paul Adams, Chairman at Aeromedical Innovation Australasia Ltd to learn more about his journey and the pioneering work he is doing to improve healthcare access for disadvantaged rural communities.

What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?

People will die unnecessarily if we delay adoption of new technology. Critical illness does not respect geography and all Australians deserve world class healthcare. We are world leaders in health advancement and we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Why are patients in the bush still at risk and disadvantaged by location? Whose responsibility is it to give them access to world class healthcare?

Aeromedical Innovation Australasia (AIA) is a charity advocating for cutting-edge solutions that restore equity. Our disruptive projects focus on agitating industry towards early adoption.

AIA membership is for anybody with an interest in the future of aeromedicine. No matter where you live or what you do, you can help us work towards a future where everyone has access to the best aeromedical support possible.

Tell us a bit about your own story and what inspired you to take the plunge and set up your own social enterprise?

I’m a former paramedic, now doctor. Next year I move with my young family to Longreach to complete my training as a Rural Generalist.

I’m part of a new and disruptive movement in Australia, that started in Queensland, named the Rural Generalist Pathway. Rural workforce supply has remained a great challenge for Health Administrators and Specialist Colleges over the years.

My training pathway has given me exposure to many different rural and remote healthcare settings. One thing is clear – Australians depend on aeromedicine for life-saving healthcare in rural and remote locations.

It became surprisingly apparent during time in Mount Isa that disparity persists for remote patients requiring critical care. I commenced Project Thunderbird in late 2013, which looks at accelerating the introduction of tiltrotor aircraft to Australia to help solve this problem.

Project Thunderbird started as a hobby, but it’s now snowballed to become an internationally recognised effort. A group of sympathisers agreed that organisational structure was necessary to support the project and in 2015 we founded Aeromedical Innovation Australasia (AIA).

AIA now has three projects running in total, focussed on tiltrotor aeromedicine, drone aeromedicine, and nationalisation of paediatric retrieval. We also have some great ideas for future projects.

What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?

Comprehension, Credibility, and Capability.

Comprehension – we aim to be change merchants. We are not for profit. We want to stimulate the industry to adopt the changes we are promoting (which are inevitable) as soon as possible, without actually doing it ourselves. It is hard for some people to understand that we are driven by the cause of better patient care, not profit margins. Any financial profits from our work are to go back to industry.

Credibility – we deal in futures yet realised. Some might think we are “on cloud nine” or that we are simply a bunch of fanatics, or that we are actually not achieving anything productive. I see us as filling a critical void in the industry between technology developers and thought leaders, and those businesses that bring the change to consumers. Getting the backing of key credible industry players is an ongoing challenge as we are working against a culture of competition, independence, and tradition.

Capability – we require volunteers with a variety of skill-sets. To be successful in our projects, we need to become a knowledge-hub. This intelligence will see us near the “apex” of each respective topics, and enables us unique influence. We need members from all “industry herds”, funding, pro-bono skills support (business plans etc), promotion, industry collaboration and visionary (& resilient) leaders. Recruitment of skilled volunteers is an important challenge.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?

“This is a marathon, not a sprint”

If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?

It’s hard to say, “starting over” is a different season to that we are in currently – each has its unique challenges.

Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?

We are the backbone of future industry. We bring “the cause”, the “why”. There’s plenty of opportunity for economic growth through innovation. Innovation can’t occur “just for the sake of it”. We need a reason to change and evolve, and social enterprise drives that.

What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?

It’s an “enabler”. We face obstacles and challenges everyday that need to be overcome, but we also find sympathisers and enablers. It’s up to “the herd” to achieve the change and innovations we are driving. Social Change Central shares that vision of collective responsibility as opposed to dismissive avoidance.

The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation?

We are seeking:

  • new members from all “industry herds”
  • funding (sponsorships/grants, innovative investment)
  • probono support (website, business development, etc.)
  • presentation opportunities (conferences, organisations)
  • collaboration (academic, professional, community)
  • visionary leaders with project ideas

We are passionate about ensuring Australia continues to lead the world. AIA membership is for anybody with an interest in aeromedicine. No matter where you live or what you do, you can help us work towards a future where everyone has access to the best healthcare possible.

If you’re interested in helping out or providing advice check out our projects, our strategy, and learn about us. Just as importantly, if you want to stay in the loop, subscribe to our news feed and various social media groups.

For further questions about joining please contact ChairmanAIA[at]

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Skype: aeromedinnovateaustralasia

LinkedIn Project Groups: Thunderbird: “Tiltrotors for Australian Aeromedicine”Skywalker: “Unmanned Aeromedical Vehicles”Artemis: “‘Australian Paediatric Critical Care Retrieval’ concept working party”

A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does she say and why is she here?

This thing is like a cloud that follows me everywhere!

I want to see if it works indoors…

Are you a Social Change Champion? Want to be interviewed? Join as a Gold Member.

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