Volunteering Opportunities - May 2021

Volunteering in Dentistry Committee | Newsletter No.1 – May 2021

TOP (L-R): Dental Rescue Day at Simply Dental, Noosaville, February; One of the earliest Cherbourg dental teams; Dental Rescue Day at Raniga Dental, Brisbane, April.

BOTTOM (L-R): The team for the 2019 TIMA Refugee Dental Fair at QEII Hospital; Community hall in Tara, QLD converted to treatment rooms

The Volunteering in Dentistry Committee's (ViDC) objective is to promote dental volunteering in Queensland.  This includes sharing information about dental volunteering activities and facilitating the engagement of such activities by you and your practice team.

Dental volunteering activities are extremely challenging to organise and should be celebrated.  However, those who volunteer do so quietly without seeking recognition. As such, activities often go largely unnoticed. There are also many who wish to participate but find it difficult to identify opportunities, especially locally. Hopefully the words that follow help to fix this.

Below are volunteering opportunities with a range of organisations, such as the Australian Dental Health Foundation; Tzu Chi International Medication Association’s Dental Fairs and Inclusive Health Clinic; and two volunteering events led by inspirational final year Griffith University dental students.

1. Australian Dental Health Foundation

Dental Rescue Day at Simply Dental, Noosaville, February.

The Australian Dental Health Foundation (ADHF) is a registered charity whose vision is to address the inequality between Australians who can access dental care, and those who can’t. We do this through the coordinated matching of volunteer dental practitioners with patients from registered charities and not-for-profit organisations targeting: domestic violence, homelessness, mental health, addiction, long-term injury or illness, and poverty. Amelia Hogan, our Queensland State Coordinator is an experienced Social Worker who has worked in Australia and Ireland, and is greatly enjoying placing patients with generous volunteers across the state. 

Recent events

Dental Rescue Days in Brighton (Brisbane North), Gumdale (Brisbane South), Victoria Point (Brisbane South) and Noosaville (Sunshine Coast).

Upcoming events

  • 20th May: Oral health education, Homeless Connect, Brisbane

  • 2nd June: Dental Rescue Day, Brighton, Brisbane North

  • 8th June: Dental Rescue Day, Chermside, Brisbane North

  • 22nd June: ADHF volunteers to start seeing patients at ADAQ clinic, Brisbane

  • 24th June: Dental Rescue Day, Toowoomba

Volunteering opportunities

We currently have patients in need of treatment in the following regions of Queensland:

  • Cairns

  • Sunshine Coast

  • Caboolture/Kallangur 

  • Wellington Point

  • Toowoomba

  • Ipswich 

Get involved with ADHF

Please contact Amelia Hogan on [email protected]  or 0417 801 792 for further information.

2. Tzu Chi International Medical Association

Community hall at Tara, QLD converted to treatment rooms

Tzu Chi Foundation is an international humanitarian and non-governmental organisation established in Taiwan in 1966.  In 2002, Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) was started in Brisbane by a small group of young dentists, led by Dr Alice Lu, who wanted to bring dental care to those that could not access the public system readily.  They identified the following groups as the most in need:

  • Asylum seekers whom do not possess official refugee status
  • Residents of remote communities 
  • Those experiencing homelessness 

Dental Fairs

In 2004, in partnership with Queensland Health and various refugee organisations, the first Refugee Dental Fair was held at QEII Hospital and later became a biannual event.  In 2007, TIMA organised the first Medical and Dental Fair in Tara, a small town located 300 kilometres west of Brisbane. The local community hall is transformed into treatment rooms for medical and allied health services including dentistry.  One of the highlights at all TIMA dental fairs is the endless supply of delicious meals and snacks to sustain you through a busy and rewarding experience.

Join the next Dental Fair

The next TIMA Dental Fair will be held in Toowoomba on Sunday, 12th of September. Please contact TIMA on [email protected]  for more information on how to get involved.

Inclusive Health Clinic

2011 marked the beginning of a long-term partnership between TIMA and Micah Projects (supporting those that are homeless or at risk of being homeless).  In 2017, they jointly opened the Inclusive Health & Wellbeing Hub in South Brisbane which operates Monday to Friday with one fitted dental surgery.  It’s operated by a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation.

Get involved with Inclusive Health Clinic

The clinic is always looking for dentists to volunteer their skills, even if only for half a day a month.  If you are unable to volunteer in person, you can still make a vital contribution through donating consumables and equipment.  Please email [email protected]  if you are interested in helping.

3. Clinics For Kids

Clinics For Community team at Griffith University Dental Clinic

Clinics For Kids was established as a response to the critical need for quality healthcare for children living in under-served rural and remote communities globally.  In 2021, Ryan Kungl, Founder and Director, and his team continue to demonstrate a new standard in student led collaboration in the charitable health space by expanding their services to cater for adults. 

In partnership with the Griffith University Dental Clinic and local homeless service provider partners; the ‘Clinics For Communities’ program aims to provide emergency dental treatment to people experiencing homelessness over three non-consecutive clinic days in addition to coordinating future access to dental treatment through the public system. The first clinic took place on April 7, 2021 and was a complete success with 23 patients receiving emergency dental care.

This program would not have been possible without generous funding provided for by the Pierre Fauchard Academy and support from Griffith University staff.

Get involved with Clinics for Kids

Please email [email protected]  to find out how you can get involved.

4. Cherbourg Dental Clinic

One of the earliest Cherbourg dental teams

According to the World Health Organisation, half of the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services. Within Australia, this includes remote and rural areas which are often occupied by Indigenous Australians. 

To make dental care more accessible for regional Australians, Griffith University dental students, under the supervision of a qualified dentist, have been providing dental treatment to the people living in the Indigenous community of Cherbourg, a regional town 170km north-west of Brisbane.

This initiative was run as a pilot study in 2010 by a group of Griffith University dental students and the project solidified in 2011 with David Baker and Kylie Arnot establishing a Memorandum of Understanding with the local health service in which the clinic runs.  It’s currently run as the dental arm of Hope4Health, a non-profit organisation and registered charity founded by Griffith University students in 2006. 
[Previously, it was incorrectly stated that this initiative was founded by Dr Michael Baker.  We apologise for any confusion.] 

This year the team is led by final year dental students Emma Parsons, Iaitdaar Mia and Ryan Kungl.  Along with their supervising dentist, Dr Robert Foster, the volunteer team of students will deliver free dental treatment in the town from June 21-25 and for a week in November 2021.

Get involved with Cherbourg Dental Clinic

Please email [email protected]  for more information on how you can help.

Contact the Committee

If you would like to share your own dental volunteering experiences, promote opportunities for volunteering and/or interested in finding out more information, please email Miriah Sawrey.