Indigenous health professionals welcome three new Aboriginal dentists graduating in Western Australia today
Available for Immediate Release
Three Aboriginal women will today graduate as dentists from the University of Western Australia. Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) and Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) join in congratulating them on their achievement and welcome them in joining a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are succeeding to become and practice as highly skilled practitioners.
“This is a really significant day”, said Gari Watson, President of IDAA. “We absolutely need more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people becoming dental and other health professionals.
It makes a big difference in how people interact with and access care if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are involved in delivering it. In September 2018 there were 48 Indigenous dentists across the whole of Australia: about 0.3 per cent of dentists, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up about 3 per cent of the population. Having three Aboriginal women graduate as dentists on one day from one university is something we’d like to see a lot more of.”
IAHA CEO, Donna Murray said “We are delighted for the graduates themselves and their achievement. We’re also excited about what it means in terms of increasing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. There is a huge need for accessible, affordable, culturally safe and holistic health care services, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who often face major challenges getting the comprehensive care they need.”
Dr Tony Bartone, President of the AMA described the situation on the AMAs 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can be largely attributed to the social determinants of health. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need”.
We expect this is also good news for the Western Australian Government, as improving the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people is a priority in the Western Australian Government’s State Oral Health Plan 2016-2020. The Plan notes and seeks to address the situation where Aboriginal people are less likely to receive treatment they need.
The WA Health Aboriginal Workforce Strategy 2014-24 also recognises the importance of addressing service capacity and workforce, stating “More Aboriginal staff are needed to help
address the significant health issues faced by Aboriginal people”.
As with the dental graduates today, we hope to be congratulating many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners in the future. Aboriginal and Torres strait islander
communities need better access to comprehensive healthcare. Good oral health is anessential element of health and well being.
Donna Murray, CEO IAHA
P: 02 6285 1010