Making an impact in the Kimberley

Posted on 7th May 2019

Children in the classroom

In 2009, Jan Owen, accompanied by husband John, went to Halls Creek because of Jan’s participation in the choir Madjitil Moorna.

“The school welcomed our dental expertise as they had been without a school dental therapy service for a considerable time and many children suffered severe dental disease and pain,” Jan recalls. “This afforded the opportunity for us to provide dental screening and dental health education (DHE) to the local school children during the week of the choir visit.

“With our increasing awareness of the inequality of dental health care compared to that of metropolitan Perth, we committed to the development of a volunteer team of dental health personnel, the Kimberley Dental Team (KDT), to enhance current services and improve dental health literacy.”

Jan says Kimberley Dental Team are committed to providing access to flexible, family and community friendly and culturally appropriate dental treatment and dental health education (which includes the Strong Teeth Toothbrushing Program to provide toothbrush packs to Kimberley schools so that children can brush their teeth each day at school).

The work of the Kimberley Dental Team would not be possible without the work of the many volunteers who have taken part since its inception, and Jan encourages those who volunteer to come along with an open heart and desire to learn. “We expect our volunteers to embrace the team ethos, lifestyle and to learn about and respect the cultural diversity that they will encounter,” she says.

“Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity for young dentists and students to experience rural and remote life in Australia and learn from their peers, especially older practitioners with years of clinical and practice experience,” Jan adds.

“The team provides dental care and also oral health education including tooth brushing supplies to children and families in the Kimberley and through KDT Southern sessions. Our mission in the Kimberley is to improve the general wellbeing and dental health of indigenous children and their families thereby reducing the long-term cost and suffering dental disease inflicts. This is achieved by implementing realistic, measurable and achievable goals and outcomes.”

For further information about the Kimberley Dental Team or to enquire about volunteering, go to