The Australian Dental & Oral Health Therapist Association Inc Victorian Branch (ADOHTA Vic) is a non-profit organisation originally formed in the 1970’s by and for dental therapists, offering professional advice and support in Victoria.
By 1986 the Victorian Dental Therapists Group (VDTG) as it was known then, was a well organised group with a structure that represented dental therapists from across the Departmental of Health regions of Victoria, providing professional development and working closely with members, the VPSU and the Department of Health for better wages and conditions.
In October 2008, VDTG, with a majority vote by members, was changed to the Victorian Dental & Oral Health Therapist Association Inc. This move was to acknowledge and provide support for the now dual degree graduating oral health therapists from the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, Bendigo, whose qualification incorporates dental therapy and dental hygiene thus being termed Oral Health Therapists.
In July 2013, the associations name again changed, by majority vote, to become the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association Inc. Victorian Branch. The change supports both the standardisation of dental and oral health therapists’ scope of practice in all states of Australia as well as a display of strength that dental and oral health therapists in all states are overarchingly one profession and one voice.
The colours of ADOHTA Victorian Branch are purple, white and green. They stem from the original suffragette movement and its colours exemplify strong women. Originally as only women were selected to train as dental therapist, the colours were chosen to encourage dental therapists to develop into strong practitioners that gave direction to their own profession.
Purple is the royal colour. It stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every woman, the instinct of freedom and dignity; white stands for purity in private and public life; green is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring.
Tasmania was an integral participant in early dental initiatives. The Beaconsfield Council in the North of the state was the first state to fluoridate its water in 1953 and was followed closely by the Launceston and Hobart councils. After the passing of the Fluoridation Act in 1968 saw all communal water supplies in Tasmania fluoridated.
The School of Dental Nursing also opened during this period. The first intake of 10 students occurred in 1966, making Tasmania the first state in Australia to train and graduate School Dental Nurses (Therapists) to treat school children. The Hobart based School underwent a name change in 1977 to the Tasmanian School of Dental Therapy and continued to educate a yearly intake of students until the last intake in 1987. In the 90’s Dental Therapists in Tasmania were educated and trained under a studentship program delivered by the University of South Australia. When this partnership came to an end a new partnership was formed with the Westmead College of Dental Therapy in Sydney and graduates returned to employment with the Tasmania School Dental Service.
Tasmanian no longer has an intrastate education pathway for the education of Dental practitioners, but is developing links with Tertiary Education Providers from other states to recruit newly graduated Oral Health Therapists to the state, as well as welcoming those from overseas. We also value the experience and knowledge of those trained in a sole dental discipline.
The delivery of services to the community by Dental Therapists has undergone many changes. It has evolved from a mobile van orientated school based service managed by the Tasmanian School Dental Service to a varied and public and private based Dental Practitioners Professional Community. While the majority of Dental and Oral Health Therapists are still employed by Oral Health Services Tasmania in public community dental clinics, the dental legislations reviews undertaken from 1998-2004 by the National Competition Policy opened the door for Dental Therapists to work in the private sector.
The Tasmanian Dental Therapy Association was formed in the 1960’s as a branch of the CPSU Union. The main aim of the Association at this time was to provide support and guidance to its professional members as well as mentoring and guidance for those newly graduated to the profession. It became a separate entity in the early 90’s. The Association has provided a high level of professional guidance, support, advocacy and continued education to its members to date. The TDTA has recently undergone a name change to Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association – Tasmanian Branch and will continue to deliver and maintain its high level commitment to the profession and its members at a state and national level.