Working in remote Indigenous communities is something to smile about

To celebrate Dental Health Week, we take a look at the service delivery our oral health (OH) professionals have provided to the remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory (NT). Our OH teams have provided a staggering equivalent of 564 weeks of service, which equates to approximately 57.6 years of service…in only six years!

“The oral health program has strengthened in the recent years, in some cases we are the sole provider of oral health professionals to health centres across the Northern Territory. RAHC’s oral health professionals have a passion for and a strong commitment to their work, in fact a Dental Assistant was the winner of the inaugural Annette Walker award,” said Philip Roberts, General Manager of RAHC.

Over 200 OH professionals have completed a placement with three out of four returning to continue their work across the NT. For many of the health professionals, they are invested to continue their work to the experiences they’ve had in the community, both professionally and personally.

Robyn Carter, a Dental Assistant from Airlie Beach (QLD), has completed 14 placements in four years and continues her passion with three more placements organised before the end of 2015.

“My involvement with RAHC has given me the opportunity to experience life first hand in the NT’s remote Indigenous communities, their culture, traditions, languages and beliefs. I have [also] expanded my dental knowledge by working with some amazing liked-minded clinicians”.

In recent times we’ve had two of our health professionals transition to contract work for the NT Department of Health (DoH) directly as their experiences with RAHC in the NT ignited a passion to work in the NT on an ongoing basis.

Ken Farmer, a Dentist from Warragul, fell in love with Alice Springs after an initial placement of four weeks turned into five months. During this time he worked for Central Australia Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) as the sole dentist whilst assisting the clinic prepare for the arrival of their permanent dentist. Since working for DoH, he has completed numerous bush trips across Central Australia, calling upon his sense of humour and flexibility to work through the various hiccups and challenges that everyday life in the NT presents.

Robyn Hallam (Dental Assistant from Basin View) completed six placements with RAHC before taking up the role of Senior Dental Assistant with DoH. During her time working in the remote locations, it became a passion and the job became a career.

“Probably the most important thing to me is watching someone who has had poor oral hygiene in the past learn that it is possible to smile with confidence by changing their tooth brushing and dental care ways”, said says.

Dental Health Week takes place every year during the first week of August and is the Australia Dental Association’s (ADA) major oral health promotion and education campaign. In 2015, ADA aims to educate Australians about ‘Sports and Oral Health’, raising awareness on mouthguards, sports related dental trauma and hydration.

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Would you like to share your RAHC experience with other Health Professionals? We are always looking for RAHC Health Professionals to tell us about their experience, by preparing a RAHC story. If you are willing to share your story, please contact your Placement Consultant or email us.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015