On Wednesday 16th March leading Hunter Aboriginal Medical Service, Awabakal Ltd in partnership with New South Wales Health officially opening their new 3-chair dental clinic in Newcastle.
The custom-built clinic provides bulk-billed dental services to the local Aboriginal community, in an effort to improve holistic health outcomes.]
The Awabakal Dental Clinic received a total $394,000 funding from NSW Ministry of Health – Oral Health Unit, via the Centre for Aboriginal Health, which allowed the organisations to develop the site, next to the Awabakal Hamilton Medical Centre.
Previously the clinic was two chairs operating out of a small section of the Medical Centre next door. The new facility, including an extra chair, was designed specifically to meet the demand of the local Aboriginal community’s oral health needs.
Prior to opening, the waitlist had reached 3 months and preventative oral health was suffering.
Awabakal Ltd CEO, Raylene Gordon, is delighted with the new clinic and the opportunities it brings.
“Dental health can be expensive and inaccessible. Our clinics are culturally safe, we bulk bill, and we give all of our patients the opportunity to have the best available oral healthcare,” said Ms Gordon.
“If you don’t have healthy teeth, you can’t always eat healthy foods. The condition of your teeth is directly related to your overall health,” said Ms Gordon.
“To improve Indigenous health, we need to take a holistic approach.”
Along with culturally appropriate health care, this partnership, between local AMS Awabakal and Hunter New England Health has also resulted in a number of career pathways for young Indigenous people, creating much needed job opportunities in the health industry.
Awabakal’s Director Julie Rose, started out as a Dental Assistant with Awabakal when she was 18 years old. Today two of her daughters have followed her career path and work in the medical team.
“We currently have three Aboriginal Dental Assistants working in the team with HNE’s dentists, and we can see the potential for even more training and career opportunities for our young people,” said Ms Gordon.
The opening was attended by local State Member Tim Crakanthorp, Councillor Deahnna Richardson, and representatives from the NSW Ministry of Health, Awabakal Ltd and Hunter New England Health.