Brewarrina Rural Placement Dental Program
Brewarrina Shire Council
Brewarrina, a remote, rural shire with a majority Indigenous population, struggles to attract medical professionals to its key towns and villages where there is a desperate need. Dental practitioners, in particular, are scarcely found within a three hundred kilometer radius.
Council’s comprehensive solution to the dental shortage problem enables the provision of excellent free dental care to health card holders within and without the Shire boundaries and offers reduced rates for other clients.
To achieve this fantastic outcome, embraced by a grateful community, Council approached a university dental school, explaining its community’s desperate need for assistance. The result: an innovative dental program, involving Council’s dedicated partners, Griffith University (Queensland), the Greater Western Area Health Service and Ochre Health. With Council, each is committed to ‘closing the gap’ in Indigenous health outcomes. Each plays an essential and integral role. Council also acknowledges the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Health and Ageing that funded the dental surgery building.
The service is manned by final year dental students from Griffith University who undertake three-week rotations during university semesters, accompanied by their trained dentist supervisors. The community agrees with the assessment by Griffith University that its students are the crème of the crop.
o Critical health service established for the benefit of local residents
o Ease of access
o Affordable dental care
o Cost effective
o Effective program – 550 consultations in six weeks
o Improvement in Indigenous health outcomes
o Educational value – teaching and reinforcing the importance of oral health care
o Up-skilling and insight gained by students who also benefit from the outback cultural experience
o Potential for students to commit to practice in outback, Indigenous areas.
o Potential to expand the service
o Council satisfies its social responsibility
Council understands that our model is currently being replicated within another NSW community.