Victorian school dental chases students

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Bendigo Health Community Dental Clinic (formerly School Dental Program) is piloting a six week evening dental clinic for secondary school students. The evening clinics have been designed to provide better access to dental services for secondary school students outside of school hours.

The evening clinics are part of the child oral health program and offer free dental examinations and treatment to eligible secondary school students. Eligible students (or their parents) must hold a valid concession card to receive treatment.

The clinics commenced yesterday and will run for a trial period of six weeks. Over the six weeks, clinics will be held each Wednesday evening from 5pm – 8pm to allow students to attend after school hours and extra curricular activities.

Bendigo Health director of allied health Robyn Lindsay said that ongoing availability of the evening clinics will depend on support from eligible members of the teenage community and availability of clinicians.

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer this extra service to meet the needs of our teenage clients,” said Ms Lindsay.

“It’s been identified that this younger secondary school aged demographic isn’t accessing the service so we wanted to trial a service that would fit in with their school commitments.

“The Community Dental Program is committed to improving the oral health of our community. We hope that by providing extended clinic hours in the evening secondary students will find it easier to access dental services,” added Ms Lindsay.

Ms Lindsay says she is confident the pilot program will be a success. “Initially, if we offer [it] as a six-week program, we’ll certainly monitor demand and have the potential to run longer if we need to but we’re hoping it will give people an option,” she said.

Ms Lindsay says parents and students have asked for hours at the dental clinic to be extended because of the pressure of studies and after-school activities. She says the program could be extended if the demand is high.

“We’re working … particularly with LaTrobe University on this particular initiative and we have plans to make it sustainable if we have a good outcome from the pilot,” she said.

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