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Report Details


Committee Name:

Estimates and Financial Operations Committee (1989 - 2001)

House:

Legislative Council
Report Type:Report

Title:

The Provision of Health Services in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia: Dental Health
Report No:33
No of Pages:33
Physical Location:Legislative Council Committee Office

Presentation Date:

11/23/2000
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Hide details for Executive Summary and RecommendationsExecutive Summary and Recommendations

In the Kimberley region of Western Australia, dental health is one of the biggest health problems. The Aboriginal people are experiencing what can be described as an epidemic of dental disease. The dental services are not adequate to meet the need of the Aboriginal people living in the Kimberley.

The problem of dental health of the Aboriginal people and the problems associated with the dental service provision in the Kimberley are not a new phenomenon and are well recognised.

The Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations (“the Committee”) is of the view that the State Government is currently failing in its commitment (as made by Hon John Day MLA, Minister for Health in the report of the Health Department of Western Australia, Remote Area Nurse Practitioner Project Report 2000, April 2000) to provide access to quality health care for all people living in remote areas of Western Australia by allowing dental health standards to continue to deteriorate in the Kimberley.

This report seeks to present some practical suggestions for action in order to improve the current poor status of dental health of the Aboriginal people in the Kimberley and thus improve their quality of life. It is the aim of the Committee that the implementation of the recommendations of this report will contribute to significantly reduce dental health problems and equip Aboriginal communities with the prerequisites to achieve and maintain good dental health.

Recommendations

      Recommendation 1: That a survey be undertaken of dental health in the Kimberley and that a plan and program be established to address dental health needs.

      Recommendation 2: That the State Government make a greater effort to put fluoride into the water supplies in the Aboriginal communities of the Kimberley to aid in the prevention of dental caries.

      Recommendation 3: That supplementary fluoride programs, in the absence of water fluoridation, be implemented in all schools in the Kimberley.

      Recommendation 4: That dental health education programs aimed at preventing dental disease be implemented immediately. The programs should include dental health instruction and daily brushing.

      Recommendation 5: That the Health Department of Western Australia expand existing school and community based health education programs to incorporate dental health education programs.

      Recommendation 6: That the State fund and implement a tooth brushing program in all schools in the Kimberley.

      Recommendation 7: That State and local governments encourage community stores to adopt schemes to reduce costs and increase the range of nutritious foods stocked in order to help improve the dental and general health of the community.

      Recommendation 8: That the Health Department of Western Australia and the Ministry of Education review the tooth brushing program and store policy at Yakanarra Community to see how they can be effectively promoted and implemented throughout the Kimberley.

      Recommendation 9: That an up-to-date dental facility be established in the new Halls Creek District Hospital.

      Recommendation 10: That the Health Department of Western Australia establish ‘dental centres’ in key Aboriginal communities to house dental equipment to be used by visiting dental health staff.

      Recommendation 11: That the Health Department of Western Australia examine the feasibility of establishing a dedicated short-term locum employment position in the Kimberley for dentists.

      Recommendation 12: That each of the larger communities in the Kimberley have access to an Aboriginal Health Worker, trained to provide dental health education.

      Recommendation 13: That the Health Department of Western Australia undertake a feasibility study into short-term vocational placements of final year dentistry students and first year dentists in the Kimberley.

      Recommendation 14: That the Health Department of Western Australia undertake a review of the role of dental auxiliaries (therapists and nurses) in providing dental health services in remote areas of Western Australia, similar to the Remote Area Nurse Practitioner Project.