UQ reaches out to indigenous communities

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The University of Queensland has announced it will set up some innovative dentistry training schools in southern Queensland next year. The university reached an agreement with the Goondir Indigenous Health Service to create training clinics in Dalby and St George.

UQ Dentistry School spokesman Brad Wright told ABC local radio that federal funding will be used to build facilities, with four final-year students to be based in St George and five in Dalby. “[There will be] about 46 or 48 weeks a year presence five days a week from dentists and students,” he said.

Dr Wright says while it is designed to provide services to local Indigenous people, the wider community will also be allowed to access the clinics. He says the program is designed to boost dentistry services in the region and give students a taste of rural practice.

The announcement follows a similarly innovative system set up by Charles Sturt University in central western NSW, which has recently completed construction of clinics in Dubbo, Wagga and at their main campus at Orange.

Back in October staff from a public dental clinic in Dubbo moved into a new, $8 million clinic in River Street, Dubbo, which has been built through a partnership between New South Wales Health and Charles Sturt (CSU) and Sydney Universities.

The North Dubbo dentistry unit includes learning areas and a 16 chair public dental service. First undergraduates from the universities start their practical placements next year.

Dr Sabrina Manicomb from CSU’s dentistry program said hands-on learning is crucial for students.

“Students have to learn and this is not a new model, students have been learning along these lines across the country for many many years, that’s how we all trained,” she said “I think the only inconvenience that I suppose patients may experience is the fact that what would take a general practitioner maybe half an hour to an hour to do would take a student a lot longer to do.”

The idea of the school in a rural university is to encourage local students to stay and practice in central western NSW.

Dr Manicomb said similar partnerships in Wagga Wagga and Orange-in buildings constructed on campus for CSU’s dental school-have been popular with local residents.

“The patients, I think, are keen to encourage these young students to study out here because the hope is, and this is the whole reason behind what we’re doing at CSU, is to encourage these young graduates to stay in the region and provide good dental services and increase the current workforce issues that we’re facing.”

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