As part of the Australian Dental Association’s Dental Health Week (August 1 – 7), seven volunteer community groups will receive grants from the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and The Wrigley Foundation to support their efforts to improve the dental care of some of Australia’s most deprived and forgotten communities.
“Last year the United Nations Human Development Index ranked Australia as having the second best quality-of-life in the world after Norway, and yet nearly 40 per cent of Australians cannot access basic dental care when they need it,” said Robert Boyd-Boland, CEO of the ADA. “It is a sobering thought that—in the words of one of our grant recipients—the Third World exists in some parts of Australia.”
The worst affected come from low-income, homeless, special needs, rural and Indigenous communities, where poor oral health is widespread and waiting lists are often measured in years.
To help address these issues, seven noteworthy community oral health initiatives have each been awarded Wrigley Foundation Australian Dental Association Community Service Grants of US$5,000 to help improve the access to dental care and oral health education of disadvantaged Australians.
“Ensuring access to dental care for all Australians should be a priority, which is why it was so pleasing to see the number and quality of applications that we received in the pilot year of our partnership with The Wrigley Foundation,” said Boyd-Boland.
The Community Service Grants program is designed to bridge the gap in care and encourage dentists and enrolled dentistry students to plan and implement community health programs in their local communities. This year’s grants will help place dentists in remote and rural areas, develop oral health education materials, and provide essential resources to help dentists improve the oral health of some of our neediest communities.
“I know that these seven initiatives will make real difference to the oral health of their communities and wish them every success in reaching their goals,” said Hamish Thomson, Wrigley Pacific Managing Director. “Wrigley is proud of its long relationship with Australian dentists and we firmly believe that we can help them make a difference to some of our most disadvantaged communities via this grassroots community grants program.”
The 2011 recipients of the Wrigley Foundation ADA Community Service Grant are: Filling the Gap, which recruits volunteer dentists to be placed for 1-2 weeks in the two fully equipped but unstaffed dental rooms in Wuchopperen in Far North QLD; The Tooth Mob volunteer program, which is designed to facilitate oral health treatment among the remote Indigenous communities of the Katherine, NT; HOPE4HEALTH, a student-run Griffith University initiative, which has established an Emergency Dental Clinic at Cherbourg, QLD to provide dental care and oral health education; The National Dental Foundation NSW’s Dental Rescue Days which provide a simple way for dentists and their staff to volunteer their time to provide care to patients from a range of charities; the University of Adelaide, which is setting up a clinic that will provide access to basic oral health care services for homeless people in Adelaide, staffed by students, staff and volunteer dentists; Absolute Dental Care in QLD aims to educate children and adolescents from disadvantaged families on the importance of oral hygiene and prevention of dental problems before they arise; and The Cerebral Palsy Alliance is building a specialised dental clinic for people with cerebral palsy: the first of its kind in Australia. The grant will fund a specialised wheelchair ramp that will allow dentists to treat patients in their wheelchairs. www.cerebralpalsy.org.au
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