The Souths Cares team were invited to attend and participate in a recent workshop concerning the creation of pathways into dental careers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Hosted by the NSW Health, the workshop examined a number of existing training and education models as well as essential qualifications and employment options.

Shannon Donato, General Manager of Souths Cares, said that the invitation from State-wide Aboriginal Oral Health Manager Boe Rambaldini to attend the workshop endorses Souths Cares current work in the community and demonstrates a willingness for government and community based organisations to work in collaboration for the betterment of the community.

“Currently there are no qualified Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander dentists in New South Wales” said Shannon.

“The government and Souths Cares are keen to see the take-up rate of dental careers by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people increase to a satisfactory level.

“Qualifying as a dentist can be a long process for an applicant, particularly mature aged candidates however, the workshop explored options around:

·        models of engagement;

·        pre-university courses;

·        university entry points;

·        Dental Surgery, Oral Health and Dental Assisting education;

·        career path options; and

·        future employers.

“It was very encouraging to see many professionals and academics coming together in a genuine effort to examine the current situation and to lay the ground work for further discussion.

“Through our School to Work Program, which assist indigenous students’ transition from school to further education or employment, Souths Cares is perfectly placed to inform government on their participants’ aspirations and desired career pathways,” said Shannon.

“I look forward to the day when schemes like the one we are trying to establish are no longer required – when professional qualifications are realistic options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and them securing employment in highly skilled jobs is the norm.”