Posted on 29th April 2021
At ADAWA’s General Meeting in March, several members received 40– and 50–year badges of continuous membership. Attendees heard words of wisdom – both humorous and inspiring – from each recipient, including stories of cars being towed away from ADA House, the impact of fluoridisation, and appreciation of our own association.
Following the meeting, we caught up with the 50-year recipients, who collectively have an incredible 200 years of membership between them.
For respected prosthodontist Bob, receiving the 50-year badge of continuous membership was an honour.
“My first reaction was, it’s amazing how time flies,” he says. “I remember as a young bloke seeing a bunch of guys having a 20–year reunion and thinking that was a long time. And all of a sudden, I’m two and a half times more than that.”
Bob had attendees laughing when he joked about getting his high–speed drill licence, but it is clear he’s had his hand on the pulse of technology advancements throughout his career.
“Digital dentistry is exploding, and I think the next 20 years is going to phenomenal, particularly with 3D printing and so forth in dentistry,” he says. “You cannot be rigidly bound by what you learnt and those people who don’t maintain continuing education, interest and enthusiasm in dentistry are going to be left behind. You should not need compulsory CPD points because that interest should come automatically if you’re going to be a worthwhile clinician.
“It’s an exciting era,” he adds. “I look forward to the next 10 years, although I might not be actively involved in it, with interest and excitement for the profession.”
As an ADAWA member, he’s always been grateful for the work that goes on behind the scenes.
“ADAWA has always been that silent big brother that I can lean on and rely on in the background,” Bob says. “There are wonderful things people have done on our behalf, whether it be at a political or social level, to advance the profession.
“It takes hard work, and it’s a thankless task, and a lot of people should pay due homage to those people who spent an enormous amount of their time, with gratis.”
In his years as a member, Stephen has appreciated the drive and enthusiasm that committee members put into the association. “For them to undertake all the work that is achieved after a hard day in the clinic is fantastic,” he says.
He recalls that when he first started in practice there were very few continuing education courses available.
“Now the number and range of courses provided to members is a credit to the association,” he says. “I have been associated with a variety of specialists in the medical and forensic fields, but I don’t believe any of them have the postgraduate course available like we do through the ADA.”
Stephen says the WA Branch is to be congratulated for its support to the police in locating dental records.
“The ‘e-blasts’ to members has been very successful in locating dental material that otherwise would have taken weeks to source – or never located,” Stephen explains.
“For whatever reason, WA is the only State branch that undertakes this approach. I do know that the State Coroner is very appreciative that by this approach the identification of the deceased can be achieved very quickly.
“But more importantly, the family and friends of the deceased can have closure, enabling them to get on with their grieving process without having to wait weeks or months for release of the body of their loved one. In a unique way, the dental community and the association are providing a greatly appreciated community service – well done to all.”
Dennis says he has always valued his ADAWA membership, as it’s allowed him to keep in contact with colleagues in the dental profession.
“I retained my membership after retiring four years ago to maintain that close contact with dentistry and am pleased to be able to keep up with the current trends and news through my membership,” he says.
Dennis has also been integral in establishing the Australian Dental Health Foundation, to provide pro-bono dental work to people in need.
“My involvement in the National Dental Foundation began about 15 years ago, when I was approached by participating dentists in NSW, where they had been running the foundation for a couple of years, asking if we could look at setting things up in WA.
“I started the process going here with the help of several local dentists, and, with the help of the Eastern Staters, we managed to get things going quite well, providing free treatment to homeless and underprivileged people who had difficulty accessing dental treatment.”
Dennis says it was a struggle financially for the foundation, but with some Government and private assistance, they were able to make ends meet for several years.
“The opportunity to discuss this with the ADA and its own foundation came up and we negotiated a very good arrangement for the two foundations to combine their resources and form the Australian Dental Health Foundation, providing the same free treatment, but with the support then of the whole dental profession, rather than a few volunteer dentists, through the wider net of the ADA.
“This combined relationship has been a great boost to the ability of the foundation to provide far more treatments and has also relieved the few earlier volunteers of the task of running the show with minimal admin support, as the ADA now provides much of this through Andrea (Paterson), who has a part–time position administering for the foundation.
“The involvement of the ADA in its support of this endeavour has been critical to the success and acceleration of the ability of the foundation to provide more and more needy treatment to the patients concerned and I am truly grateful that they came on board when they did to progress the project on.”
Looking back over 50 years in the profession, WA’s first specialist paediatric dentist says one of the most significant things the ADA advocated was for dentists to be able to write prescriptions for their patients.
“You can imagine how many prescriptions are now written dentists,” he says. “Every single one of those had to go to a medical practitioner previously. ADA really pushed for that and it would not have happened if it were not for the ADA.
“What else has ADA done for me? I think they have always organised our insurance and indemnity so easily and everyone should appreciate that.”
Peter says he has always enjoyed going to ADA Congresses, Eat and Meets and coming to ADA House, not only for ADA meetings, but to affiliated society meetings. “There is a camaraderie of being a member of the ADA and it gives great professional support,” he says. “I cannot understand how anyone who is a dentist is not a member.”