Cherbourg Dental Clinic on ABC Radio

Student dentists visit Cherbourg

20 May 2013 , 7:56 PM by Lachlan Mackintosh

Visiting the dentist is often met with mixed emotions, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but for the most part it’s at least an option.

But that's not the case for a lot of bush communities across Queensland, dental services are stretched thin and in some cases are non-existent.

But a group of students from Griffith University, working with the Hope4Health rural health club, are out to make a difference. They've set up shop in the town of Cherbourg, a town without a dentist, to fix the teeth of locals.

Joining the program, Jenny Wyeth from the Practice Manager at the Barambah and Ryan Goh, 5th year dental science student at Griffith University and organiser of the Cherbourg voluntary dental program.

Inaugural Spirit of Healthy Horizons Conference in Griffith University Stethoscope Issue 5

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Spirit of Healthy Horizons

On 29 September, 2012, the inaugural Spirit of Health Horizons Tri-University Conference took place at Griffith University’s Centre for Medicine and Oral Health in Southport. This was a non-profit, joint initiative amongst three student-run rural health clubs, HOPE4HEALTH (Griffith University), TROHPIQ (University of Queensland), and Bushfire (Bond University). The one-day conference was a product of discussion between health students and workers regarding the lack of opportunities to communicate positive, strengths -based research, practice and innovation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This event was intended to function as a platform to inform students from a range of health backgrounds (medicine, dentistry, nursing, and allied health) about current directions and innovations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The day was opened with a performance from local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, the Bundjalung Kunjail Dance Troupe. This inspiring welcome set the scene for a plethora of incredible speakers from a range of health and community backgrounds, including Dr Chris Perry (ENT surgeon), Matthew Brown (Director of the Deadly Ears Program), Dr Janie Smith (Associate Professor at Bond University), Dr Natasha Coventry (Medical Superintendent from Cooktown), Tim Rowe (Indigenous Marathon Project), Paul Pholeros (Health Habitat) and Dr Stephen Godfrey (Ophthalmologist and volunteer with IRIS). Break-out sessions in the afternoon featured “hands-on” sessions including ear and eye examination techniques and boomerang painting.

Students, presenters and guests reported that the day was a welcome change to the ongoing focus on the poor statistics and health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities. Students who attended reported that they were motivated and inspired to engage more in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. They spoke of acquiring a greater understanding of the wider determinants of health. The conference was fun and informative, a celebration of health successes and culture; a demonstration of what the spirit of a healthy horizon may encompass.

Healthy Start in Griffith University Health Check Issue 38

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A Healthy Start to a new life

Students from Griffith’s School of Medicine have developed a program called Healthy

Start to assist refugees navigate our health system.

Refugees usually come from non-English speaking countries and conditions so precarious their only option is to flee for their lives. After the months and years in refugee camps or detention they finally arrive to our relatively pristine but utterly bewildering country.

Healthy Start has proven to be so successful it has even begun attracting sponsorship from local not-for-profit, Medicare Local South. Marrillo Jayasuriya is a 4th year student who is heading up the program from its Gold Coast base

“It really started from our preventative health workshops in primary schools and we started to ask people about refugees and what were people doing to help with their resettlement and getting access to appropriate care,” he said.

“After a lot of work we developed a six-part program to help people negotiate our system, from booking a GP visit to emergency care and women’s health.”

The team ran their first workshop in October 2012 and were overwhelmed by the response.

“All our places were full, and by the end of the day people were really enjoying it. Honestly it was beyond belief,” said Mr Jayasuriya.

Mr Jayasuriya and his colleagues have also begun training Medical students from other South East Queensland universities to deliver the Healthy Start program.

“Beyond the difference it makes in the lives of the clients, I think it also helps some of our more conservative colleagues change their views toward refugees.

“You only get that kind of change when people meet and exchange positive experiences, so hopefully it continues to grow.”

Healthy Start are running workshops every month in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.