Disadvantaged communities across NSW's Central Coast will continue to receive much needed dental care through the University of Newcastle's Oral Health Van thanks to a USD$6,000 Community Service Grant from the Wrigley Company Foundation and the Australian Dental Association Foundation (ADAF).
The van offers free dental health services to disadvantaged residents of Gosford and Wyong to those who simply cannot afford basic dental care and for those who, due to their circumstances, would not ordinarily seek oral health treatment. The 2014 grant will enable the van to operate for three days per week, tripling the number of local patients it can treat.
As well as improving the local community's knowledge on good dental health, the van provides final year Bachelor of Oral Health students with hands-on learning experience. Under the supervision of experienced dental professionals, the students offer patients a dental exam and treatment that includes oral hygiene advice and cleaning. The program is coordinated by the University of Newcastle's Associate Professor Jane Taylor and Dr Janet Wallace; final year students are rostered to the van for one session each semester.
"The Oral Health Van is a hugely impactful initiative for the local community. In one semester we can reach close to 200 patients and simultaneously offer crucial frontline training to 35 university students," said A/Prof. Taylor.
Most patients pre-book appointments through the Oral Health Clinic at the University of Newcastle Central Coast campus at Ourimbah. However, locals are also able to "drop in" on the day of operation and receive information about services and oral health education. When necessary, patients are referred back to the University of Newcastle oral health clinic for further appointments with dental hygiene and dental therapy students.
The van targets low socioeconomic communities with a variety of cultural backgrounds and age groups throughout Gosford, Wyong and surrounding areas – including Mingara Recreation Club, Entrance Foreshore Park and Kibble Park in Gosford – particularly where there are known populations of Indigenous communities and homeless people. The van moves regularly between three locations making it easily accessible via public transport.
"The University of Newcastle's Oral Health Van is helping to bridge the gap in dental care for disadvantaged patients and, at the same time, offer learning opportunities for eager young oral health students. We're pleased to be recognised for our work with the support of the Wrigley Company Foundation and the ADA Foundation grants this year," A/Prof. Jane Taylor said.
Community Service Grants
The Community Service Grants initiative provides much needed funding to volunteer dentists, dentistry students and teams of dental professionals, to help improve the oral health of some of Australia's most disadvantaged communities including Indigenous communities, homeless, special needs disability, low income and elderly. The grants provide funding to cover the purchase of supplies and other expenses to either develop or expand existing community service programs.
Through the 2014 grants program a total of US$82,000 has been awarded to 13 grant programs across Australia. Since its introduction in collaboration with ADA Inc. in 2011, the program has already awarded USD$259,000 grants.
Andrew Leakey, General Manager, Wrigley Pacific, said: "The grants, and their hard working volunteers, help bridge the gap in access to oral care services and dental education throughout Australia. Wrigley is committed to improving the state of dental health in Australia and around the globe. The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program operates in 47 countries worldwide and initiatives such the Wrigley Company Foundation ADAF Community Service Grants are dedicated to supporting dental students and professionals".
"The ADAF congratulates this year's successful grantees. Volunteer groups of dentists and other dental professionals who provide Australia's most deprived communities with free oral health treatments and education need to be applauded. It's these volunteer initiatives that are helping, first-hand, to curb the growing rate of dental decay and disease," said David Owen, Chairman Advisory Board, Australian Dental Association Foundation.
The Wrigley Company Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Wrigley Pacific. As part of Mars Incorporated, which also includes the Mars Chocolate, Petcare and Food segments, Wrigley Pacific has a rich history of giving back to communities. Whilst Wrigley Pacific is located in Sydney, the company is particularly proud to support a community oral care program close to Mars Food Australia which is based at Wyong.
It's never too early to start planning for 2015. Applications for the Community Service Grants program will open in March 2015. To keep up-to-date with news about the program and for the full application criteria visit www.adaf.org.
The 2014 Community Service Grant Recipients:
Principles in Action Grant (US$10,000)
Women's and Children's Hospital in North Adelaide/Oncology App (SA):
This grant will help develop an oral health support app to provide
additional home oral care to approximately 70 children aged 0-18 years who are undergoing oncology therapy.
Dental Student Grants (US$6,000 x 3)
University of Melbourne/The D3G Group/Student Power (VIC):
Continuing the funding from their 2013 community service grant, this year's funds will help educate students and the community to better understand and care for children with developmental dental defects (D3) and the under-recognised connection with early childhood tooth decay.
The University of Newcastle / Outreach Oral Health (NSW)
Griffith University/Hope4Health Cherbourg Volunteer Dental Clinic (QLD): Continuing the funding from their 2013 community service grant, this year's funds will support students from Griffith Uni in providing services, oral care education and dental supplies to remote Aboriginal townships.
Dentist Practitioner Grants (US$6,000 x 9)
Little Happy Tooth Co. (SA): Continued support from their 2013 community service grant to service a website for parents, patients and dental professionals which provides information on oral health, oral care, and making dental visits easier for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Kimberley Dental Team 'KDT' (WA): Continued support from a 2013 community service grant, this year's grant will help provide dental care for Indigenous children and their families in the Kimberley region.
Cerebral Palsy Alliance (NSW): This year's grant funds, which continue 2012 and 2013 community service grant funding, will support the
Cerebral Palsy Alliance's specialised dental clinic which helps more than 400 people living with cerebral palsy every year.
Carevan Foundation/Sun Smiles Project (NSW): Continued support from a 2013 community service grant, the funds will continue the Sun Smiles program provided jointly by the Carevan Foundation and Charles Sturt University in Albury to improve oral hygiene skills and access to
preventative dental care for disadvantaged rural primary school children.
North Richmond Community Health/Oral Health in Scope (VIC): North Richmond Community Health's (NRCH) Oral Health Program will partner with Scope Victoria to provide in-home oral health assessments and
education to people with disabilities, as well as an oral health workshop for both disability support and oral health practitioners.
Queensland Health Gold Coast Oral Health Services "Precious
Children, Precious Smiles" (QLD): Supporting the Gold Coast Oral Health pilot project to provide dental care to 100 disadvantaged children aged 0-3 living on the Gold Coast.
Darling Downs Hospital and Health Services/Supporting Strong Smiles (QLD): Supporting Strong Smiles is an initiative of the
Toowoomba Oral Health Service in collaboration with Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement.
Dental Outreach/Senior Smiles (SA): Continued support from a 2013 community service grant, this year for their Senior Smiles program to provide dental screening and treatment to South Australian nursing home residents via a mobile dental van.
WestCare Clinic, National Dental Foundation (SA): The grant will
be used to support the National Dental Foundation and the School of Dentistry (University of Adelaide) to set up an additional Community
Outreach Dental Clinic at WestCare in Adelaide's CBD.