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This rural placement program for Griffith University dental students ran from 2007 until June 2013 in the predominantly Indigenous shire of Brewarinna in north-western New South Wales (NSW). Groups of up to eight Griffith University final year dental students, accompanied by a qualified dental supervisor, visited the town of Brewarinna for blocks of three weeks at a time, delivering discounted services to community members for 24 weeks of the year. Children and Australian health care card holders received free treatment through the program, which also had a health promotion component. The clinic had some limitations of services; for example, root canal therapy and surgical procedures could not be performed as part of the program.
The project attracted funding from a diverse range of sources, including for remote patient transport and mobile x-ray. Capital works funding was used to build a dental facility that enabled four dental chairs to be used concurrently, thus allowing families who had traveled for treatment to be booked together.
Day-to-day dental clinic operations, as well as employment of the qualified supervising dentist, were the responsibility of Griffith University. The provision of the clinic premises and student accommodation were the responsibility of Brewarrina Shire Council.
The program was conducted as a partnership between Griffith University, Ochre Health, Western NSW Local Health District and Brewarrina Shire Council (which initiated the project). Brewarrina Shire Council was awarded the 2010 National Local Government Award for Excellence for the project.
The collaboration with Griffith University ceased in June 2013 and the dental clinic closed down. A new pilot program with Charles Sturt University is currently being trialed.
Brewarrina rural and remote dental project
PO Box 125
Brewarrina NSW 2839
Ph: (02) 6830 5151
Fax: (02) 6839 2642