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  • 16 Nov 2023 10:19 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Skye Doyle, DHSV     Featured: Elizabeth Cobbledick, ADOHTA VIC-TAS Member

    DHSV has teamed up with Tonga to enhance dental services for the Island nation.

    Through the capacity-building Colin Riley Scholarship, we've [DHSV] sponsored oral health professionals to travel to the West Pacific to partner with local providers to improve oral health outcomes for the local communities. Central to the scholarship is the donation of a fully stocked, decommissioned dental van.

    Making An Impact

    Liz Cobbledick, Oral Health Advisor School Dental Program at DHSV and Stephanie Veal, Dental Assistant, Oral Health Educator and Practice Manager at NCN Health and Royal Flying Doctor Service, were among the first recipients of the scholarship.

    The two oral health professionals travelled to Tonga as part of a 10 day scoping tour prior to the official handover of the van.

    “We got to spend the week setting it up, stocking it with consumables and equipment, and showing the local staff the key features on how to use it,” Liz said.

    “We developed a step-by-step guide with instructions and photographs on how to use all the components to ensure they could operate the van, including wheel stabilisers, power isolation and the dental chair.”

    The van also includes a wheelchair lift and an internal hoist.

    The Tongan tour focused on fostering partnerships and providing dental expertise. During their visits with local health representatives, Liz and Steph presented on “What it’s like working as a Dental Assistant and Oral Health Therapist in Australia’”. 

    “We visited local dental clinics and health centres. It was rewarding to share our knowledge with the dental team through the exchange of experiences and clinical skills.”

    The donation of the dental van will make significant inroads when it comes to improving oral health.  

    “Dental services are usually provided out of the Dental Department at Vaiola Hospital in Nukualofa, as well as at some community and school-based clinics across the island.

    “The donated van will travel to villages and schools that do not have a dental clinic nearby, which will play a key role in ensuring that oral health care is accessible across the island,” said Liz.

    The Power Of Partnerships

    A central element to participating in the Colin Riley Scholarship is the ability to foster close ties and build enduring relationships.

    Beyond the clinical component, scholarship recipients like Liz and Steph are required to meet dignitaries, visit key sites, attend cultural events, and engage with local dental staff and health practitioners to understand how DHSV can partner with oral health teams.

    “We attended the Ministry of Health dinner at Liku’alofa where we were joined by the Minister for Health, Dr Saia Piukalu. We enjoyed traditional Tongan dancing, were invited to dinners, and were each presented with gifts and cakes as appreciation of our partnership,” Liz recounted.

    “Steph met with the Prime Minister of Tonga and we also met some members of the Royal Family including the Prince and Princesses. We also visited numerous kindergartens, schools and health centres, attended numerous feasts and had the opportunity to enjoy traditional Tongan cuisine.”

    The collaboration with local representatives was facilitated in partnership with Rotary West Ballarat, particularly Dr David Goldsmith and John McDonald, who've established strong relationships in the local area over the last 20 years.

    Smile, You’re In Tonga

    “The absolute highlight of the trip was visiting the MaliMali toothbrushing program at the local schools.” shared Liz.

    The Tongan word ‘MaliMali’ translates to ‘smile’ and that’s just what Liz and Steph found themselves doing when they had the opportunity to learn more about the program.

    “The MaliMali program has been running for more than 25 years and we drew inspiration from learning about such a well-established initiative, promoting prevention and education. The dental therapists visit each school once a week for toothbrushing and provide a fluoride mouth rinse, while the school staff coordinate it on the other days.

    "Seeing 200 or so kids brushing their teeth all together, in perfect synchrony, is a sight I’ll never forget,” said Liz.

    A visit to the Dental Department also helped Liz to view Monday morning in a whole new light.

    “Each Monday, the 11-chair dental clinic starts the week with a prayer. This included beautiful singing from the staff – it was a really special way to commence our visit.”

    Seeing The Sights

    In their downtime, Liz and Steph packed in as much sightseeing as possible.

    “We travelled around the island and visited all of the main tourist attractions, including the Anahulu freshwater caves and the Ha’amonga stone trilithon. We checked out the blowholes, spent the day at Pangaimotu Island, went swimming in the ocean swimming pool and saw whales off the coast. We loved the warm, sunny weather and fresh coconuts! Island life was great,” said Liz.

    Feedback For Future Applicants

    Liz offered some warm advice to future applicants:

    “I’d encourage everyone who has an open mind, is willing to jump in and have a go, and the ability to be flexible and adventurous to apply!” We’re incredibly grateful to participate in the program and we strongly encourage all colleagues to consider applying for future scholarships."

    More About The Scholarship

    DHSV established the Colin Riley Scholarship to enable Victorian public oral health professionals to participate in clinical placements and support the delivery of training in the Western Pacific region. The scholarship was developed in honour of a beloved former DHSV colleague, Dr Colin Riley, who devoted his career to improving public oral health.

    As part of the Colin Riley Scholarship, three decommissioned dental vans have been donated to Tonga, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands in the names of Colin’s three beloved daughters: Ella, Nicola and Fiona. The scholarship was established to provide 5 years’ support and the mobile dental trucks will provide help where it's needed most.

    Work is currently underway to explore bringing staff from the Pacific Islands to Australia.

    We’ll [DHSV] share future opportunities to apply for the Colin Riley Scholarship with you.

  • 15 Nov 2023 4:19 PM | Anonymous

    Ahpra’s annual report for 2022-23 is now available here.

    We're pleased to see oral health practitioners only accounted for 20 of the 610 notifications received by Ahpra, highlighting the profession's commitment to quality and safety in healthcare and to their patients.

    Find the full update from Ahpra here. 

  • 15 Nov 2023 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    A new resource has been launched by Ahpra to assist registered practitioners in managing feedback and complaints. 

    Jointly developed by Ahpra, the 15 national boards and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the checklist aims to help registered practitioners better address complaints when they're first raised by a patient or client, and may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes. 

    Input was sought from health complaints bodies, professional organisations, indemnity insurers and consumers in the development of the resource and included practitioner user-testing. 

    To find out more and access the checklist, visit:

  • 25 Oct 2022 12:02 PM | Anonymous


    2023 ADOHTA National Conference will be held in Melbourne on 27-29 July 2023.  Our theme will be "Equity in Oral Health Matters".

    Our call for papers are now open read the guidelines here:


  • 20 Oct 2022 12:57 PM | Anonymous

    ADOHTA is supportive of the Indigenous Dental Association of Australia (IDAA).  

    ADOHTA is sponsoring 2 eligible members to attend the Inaugural IDAA Conference on 28 Monday 2022 with $1000 each towards their travel and accommodation.  Read more here

  • 31 May 2022 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    What are the most important oral health messages for your community to hear? How can we engage with the public to educate and motivate them to improve their oral health? During the months of June to August, ADOHTA invites members to get creative and plan, implement and reflect on oral health promotion campaigns across the country.  Your oral health promotion could be developed for visits to childcare centres, schools or aged care facilities, community-based events etc. The only limit is your imagination! 

    Click here for further information 

    Click here to Submit your entry

  • 24 May 2022 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    ADOHTA, DHAA, ADA & Services Australia presented a Provider Number Update via an online webinar on the 17th May 2022.  The recording is available to view on the link below.

    Click here to view the Provider Number Webinar

  • 1 Apr 2022 11:22 AM | Deleted user

    The Department of Health continues to work towards implementing the policy change to allow dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists to apply for a provider number from Services Australia.

    220331 Joint Provider number member update.pdf 

  • 25 Mar 2022 12:40 PM | Deleted user

    The AMA has joined the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance – a partnership between 19 other health and community organisations who all share the united goal of reducing the consumption of sugary drinks in Australia.

    220324 AMA Joins Rethink Sugary Drinks.pdf

  • 18 Mar 2022 1:43 PM | Deleted user

    All South Australians should be able to eat, talk, smile and live a life from oral pain or infection. The South Australian Oral Health Plan 2019 - 2026 identifies Frail Older People as one of the priority groups at greater risk of oral health inequity. This plan builds on the inaugural 2014 plan and provides the South Australian response to the goals and principles of 'Healthy Mouths- Healthy Lives, Australia's National Oral Health Plan 2015 - 2024'. 

    Please see below the Position Statement: Oral Health for Older People. This evidence based document reflects an agreed position on oral health funding requirements for older people. 



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