DHAA appoints New President and President Elect


Dr Melanie Hayes has been elected as the new President of the Dental Hygienists Association of Australia (DHAA), succeeding Hellen Checker.

Melanie has been an active member of the DHAA since completing her oral health degree. She served as NSW Branch Secretary from 2009-2010, and then State President from 2010-2012. Her leadership helped encourage committee growth and developed strong relationships with key industry partners. During her term as State President Melanie also represented the DHAA at the Oral Health Promotions Committee meetings of the Australian Dental Association. She was elected as DHAA National Councillor for NSW in November 2013.Dr Hayes said, “In recent times the oral health profession has grown

exponentially and changed rapidly. It is essential that the DHAA continues to communicate with stakeholders and review the policies, standards and regulations to ensure that the oral health needs of all Australians are met. Dental hygienists and oral health therapists are skilled in disease prevention through clinical intervention and education.

“We engage in evidence-based practice and can work effectively in a wide range of community settings. It is essential that there is clarity for our members, for all members of the dental team and for the general public regarding scope of practice and access to oral health care. The DHAA endorses timely and affordable access to preventive oral health services for all Australians. I want to ensure that the DHAA continues to engage with the government, relevant associations and policy makers to promote the delivery of preventive oral health services as part of a comprehensive primary healthcare model.”

Melanie graduated from the University of Newcastle in 2007 with a Bachelor of Oral Health and the following year attained a Bachelor of Health Science (Honours) with First Class Honours and a Faculty Medal. In 2013 she was awarded her PhD; her thesis explored musculoskeletal disorders among the dental hygiene profession. Melanie has experience working as a hygienist in general and periodontal practices, and is currently a Lecturer for the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle. She also supervises Honours students from the BOH program.

In 2011 Melanie completed the Allied Dental Faculty Leadership Program, coordinated by the American Dental Education Association. She is a member of the College of Oral Health Academics and serves on the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Dental Hygiene. Melanie’s expertise has seen her invited to participate in site evaluations for the accreditation of oral health programs with the Australian Dental Council.

The DHAA also welcomes Jo Purssey as the new President Elect. Jo has been an active and passionate advocate for her profession since graduation, participating in a number of study groups, advisory councils, meetings, consultation groups and regulatory committees. Jo joined the DHAA Queensland branch in 2005 and was the State Branch President from 2011-2012. Jo has most recently been National Councillor for the Queensland branch.

Jo has been actively involved in the promotion of her profession and oral health for the community, developing and supporting oral health promotional activities at community markets and events for the homeless. In 2007, Jo was involved in a pilot program to investigate the delivery of more effective oral health services in aged care residential facilities. Jo is also engaged in the development and promotion of continuing education opportunities for members of her profession and the extended dental team. Jo developed a program for the provision of continuing education to health professionals in rural and regional areas, after successfully applying for the RHCE2 grant, supported by the Rural Health Alliance, through the Department of Health and Aging in 2010.

Jo graduated from the University of Queensland in 2004, with a Bachelor of Applied Health Science, Oral Health. She is currently working in private practice in Brisbane and in the central Queensland town of Emerald. Jo is also a casual member of the Academic staff at the University of Queensland working with students as a clinical and pre-clinical supervisor and workshop tutor.

Both Melanie and Jo acknowledge the vast contribution of outgoing President Hellen Checker. “Hellen has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to the association and her continued efforts ensured that oral health professionals had representation in a wide variety of forums. In difficult times, Hellen persevered with the challenges of leadership and succeeded in presenting a strong, unified voice for the members,” said Melanie.

“The mission of the DHAA is to represent its members from the oral health profession and advocate for preventive oral health. It will be a privilege to serve as National President, and I hope to be an advocate for a preventive oral health model of care for our members and the Australian public,” said Melanie.


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