Join In ... with the Murray Mallee Community Passenger Network

Ross Anderson invites you to become a volunteer driver, taking people to medical and other appointments.

If you have a medical appointment in Adelaide, but you can’t drive or get a lift, what do you do?

There’s a medical bus which runs up the Dukes Highway to Adelaide and back each weekday.

But that only works for people who can schedule their appointments between 11am and 2pm, who can physically climb onto the bus, or who know when they’ll be discharged from hospital.

Thankfully, there’s a second option.

The Murray Mallee Community Passenger Network has more than 20 volunteer drivers in every big town from Tailem Bend out to the Mallee and Coorong, and cars they use to take people to appointments whenever they need.

But it only has one driver in Murray Bridge, where it recently started operating alongside the Red Cross to help meet demand.

Coordinator Sam Hicks said more volunteers were needed.

The network’s drivers responded to individual requests rather than working to a roster; but they often wound up pulling regular shifts as they built relationships with passengers.

“Say (a passenger) has got a negative oncology report, they’ve got 10 weeks (of treatment), they say ‘I’ll go on this journey with you’,” she said.

Ross Anderson has been on plenty of those journeys.

The retired truckie is that one MMCPN volunteer based in Murray Bridge.

He told Murray Bridge News about his experiences earlier this week.

When did you first get involved with the Murray Mallee Community Passenger Network?

About two years ago. I saw a sign down at the doctor’s surgery saying they needed drivers. I had my MC licence and I was out of a job and I had nothing to do, so I put my hand up for it.

What do you spend your time doing?

Mainly (drive) up to Adelaide … I don’t mind driving, and that’s what it’s about.

What do you get out of your involvement?

The satisfaction of helping people that are probably less fortunate than myself ... As an interstate truck driver, you’re not part of the community when you're interstate. When you put your roots down somewhere, you want to be part of the community.

What is your fondest memory of your time with the network?

Dot from Meningie was a nice one. I think she was 92 or 93. She had to go down to Adelaide for radiotherapy. I’d go into the cancer lodge, drop her gear there, drop her off at the RAH and at the end of the week pick her up.

What is your goal as a volunteer driver?

Just to help others. It gives me something to do, fills in the time. What do you do in retirement? Sit and vegetate?

Why should people volunteer with the Murray Mallee Community Passenger Network?

Come along and try it. They’re a lovely lot of women out at Tailem Bend (who coordinate the service). You’ve just got to do your police test and driving checks and you’re right, pretty well. You can choose what jobs you do. You’re not locked into anything.

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