“This is a really significant day. 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.”
Gari Watson, President of IDAA. See Interviews with graduates Part 2 Below
Picture above caption (L-R): Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence.
“They are such great role models for Indigenous people and will be working to improve oral health, particularly in regional and remote areas of our state,”
Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education Professor Jill Milroy said it was wonderful to see three Indigenous women graduate from a highly demanding course.
” Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists.
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.”
IAHA CEO, Donna Murray :
Part 1 Three Aboriginal women recently graduated 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.
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 an essential element of health and well being.
Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists by more than six per cent. Indigenous Allied Health Australia data shows there are currently 48 Indigenous dentists practising around Australia.
Dr Rind, a 29-year-old Yamatji woman originally from Mt Magnet but raised in Perth, began her studies at UWA in the Aboriginal Orientation course in 2008 and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science in 2013. She went on to work in health and study oral health before enrolling in Dental Medicine.
“I’m planning to work in the North West of WA as part of the rural and remote program,” Dr Rind said.
Originally from Northampton, Dr Elder (29) is a Yindjbardni/Yamatji woman who obtained a Bachelor of Nursing from ECU in 2011 and worked as a registered nurse before commencing dentistry at UWA.
“I’m going to work for the State Government’s Dental Health Service as part of the rural and remote program in Kununurra,” she said.
Dr Bence (30) also worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in Melbourne before moving to Perth to study dentistry at UWA.
She’s working for Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Service in Perth as well as in private practice.