Poche oral health initiative shortlisted for higher education prize
Mobile service improves oral health and provides scholarships and career pathways for hundreds of Aboriginal people.
The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health’s mobile oral health service is a finalist in the Community Engagement category of the inaugural Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards.
This initiative, built with the help of the Sydney Faculty of Dentistry, has helped build oral health facilities servicing nine remote NSW communities including Boggabilla, Toomelah and Mungindi.
It has created unique mobile dental and laboratory facilities able to provide the best dentistry available anywhere in the state.
Among its services is a van which travels from town to town which can fit and supply up to 12 sets of dentures in four days, providing functional teeth, dignity and helping those who have waited upwards of six years for public dentures.
The service began two years ago and this year alone has delivered more than 10,000 in rural and remote areas.
“Our partnerships, commercial model, and technology have combined to build this fantastic service,” says Poche Centre Director Kylie Gwynne.
“Not only is it improving the oral health of hundreds of Aboriginal people who would otherwise wait years for much needed treatment, it also provides scholarships and career pathways for Aboriginal people to deliver oral health services.
“Engaging students in the program means they gain a unique rural and remote oral health experience which informs their practice and builds their cultural competence.”
Half of the ‘Healthy Teeth Strategy’ staff are Aboriginal and the initiative has assisted 14 Aboriginal people to qualify as dental assistants, all of whom are employed. Two graduates are now undertaking a Diploma in Dental Technology, one is preparing for entry to the Bachelor of Oral Health and another 20 have commenced the Certificate III or IV in Dental Assisting.