Rebuilding smiles and lives of Queensland victims of domestic violence

The Australian Dental Health Foundation (ADHF), the Australian Dental Association’s philanthropic arm, has been successful in obtaining a funding grant from the Queensland Government’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General under its Victims Assist program.

This funding has been provided by the Queensland Government to aid in the development and expansion of the delivery of dental care in Queensland under the Rebuilding Smiles ® program.

The importance of programs such as this is underlined by the fact that “One in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them and one in four children are exposed to domestic violence.” (Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013). Personal Safety Australia 2012)

This grant reflects an ongoing commitment by the Australian state and territory governments to tackle this major national health and welfare issue with a priority being to ensure that women and children can live from violence in safe communities.

How the Rebuilding Smiles ® program works

This nationally-run program delivers pro bono dental treatment to victims of domestic violence and their families who may have immediate dental trauma or ongoing oral health problems related to either injury or lack of dental treatment over time.

It does this by receiving applications from registered agencies that support victims of domestic violence, which verify that the applicant is a victim of domestic violence; is otherwise unable to obtain timely dental care and is living in a safe domestic environment.

The Foundation seeks to link the applicant with a dentist who has agreed to provide pro bono care to these patients. Should extensive out-of-pocket expenses be required to be incurred (e.g. dentures, crown and bridgework or implants) on application by the dentist and approval by the Foundation, the cost of these services can be met from funds donated by supporters.

In the case of the Queensland Government grant, the key performance indicators for the ADHF are:

• Recruit 30 new volunteers to the program in Queensland

• Induct 10 domestic violence support agencies to the program in Queensland

• Obtain 30 patient referrals to the program in Queensland.

What you can do

Rebuilding Smiles ® always welcomes new volunteers to expand the reach of its program.

Dentists who have participated in the program report great professional and personal satisfaction in playing a role in changing the lives of the women accepted into the program while many patients who felt they could not enter the workforce or continue to effectively parent a child, report a complete turnaround of fortunes after treatment.

“I never imagined such compassion and generosity until I had experienced it from you all. Not only have I regained my smile, but I have also regained a little faith in humanity. Both are priceless to me. ‘Thank you’ seems grossly inadequate but it’s all I can offer.”

Kylie (Rebuilding Smiles® patient), 6 September 2018

“The delivery of care to my Rebuilding Smiles ® patient was one of the most satisfying treatments of my 20 plus year career. To see the reaction of the patient at the conclusion of her treatment was amazing. I saw a timid and cautious patient transform to a much more confident member of our community. I would be happy to continue to be involved.” Dentist – May 2019

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