Final Year Dental Student Makes a Difference in Rural Queensland

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A final year dental student is bringing smiles to indigenous communities in south east Queensland. Final year student Michael Baker has encouraged fellow students to join him in hosting a series of free dental clinics in Cherbourg to provide people living in more remote communities with much needed dental care.

Michael, from Griffith University on the Gold Coast, visits Cherbourg four times a year to provide dental services to people living in Cherbourg and Torres Strait. Before the scheme was launched, people had to drive over an hour to reach a dental clinic, where the waiting list for treatment is around two years.

Mr Baker, who is from an indigenous community himself, puts a huge amount of effort into each clinic, organising volunteer help, collecting donations and equipment and driving supplies to Cherbourg.

On every trip, Michael and his team try to see as many patients as possible and they usually manage to treat up to 120 people per day. Last time, they set up four makeshift surgeries at the local health centre.

The programme, known as Hope for Health, has been running since 2010 and has made a positive difference to the people of Cherbourg. The team offers a range of treatments, from short-term pain relief to fillings and extractions designed to stop and prevent pain.

Practice manager of Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services, Lynette Brown, described the service as “vital” and praised Michael and the team of volunteers for their drive, compassion and commitment.

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