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Aboriginal health practitioners funding boost for dental training

Dechlan Brennan -

The Victorian Government has announced a second round of training grants for Aboriginal health practitioners to take part in preventative dental training.

The grants are now open for practitioners wanting to become accredited in the application of fluoride varnish, a preventative dental treatment that helps reduce the risk of tooth decay.

RMIT University and Dental Health Services Victoria will jointly conduct the training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in October, with the aim to be an increase in easily accessible dental care for First Nations children in Victoria.

Participating Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCOs) can apply for grants of up to $45,000 - with a total of $650,000 allocated.

The government says the local intervention will teach practitioners to administer two fluoride varnish applications - six months apart - to up to 350 children between the ages of 3 and 17.

In February 2022, changes in legislation as a result of championing by the Loddon Mallee Aboriginal Reference Group allowed the training to take place.

A government statement said: "The updated regulations see trained Aboriginal health practitioners as the first non-dental health professionals allowed to apply fluoride varnish, improving better health outcomes in Aboriginal communities by ensuring the delivery of the preventative treatment is done in a culturally appropriate way."

Acting Minister for Health, as well as Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Gabrielle Williams, announced the new grants on Friday.

"We know that poor oral health can contribute to longer term health issues making the upskilling of our Aboriginal health practitioners to deliver preventative dental care so important," she said.

"The impact of this program extends beyond oral health – by delivering equitable healthcare and better access to training, there becomes a broader ability to break down barriers and close the gap."

The latest funding follows an initial round of the initiative earlier in the year, which saw eight Aboriginal health practitioners become accredited.

These included the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative, Mallee District Aboriginal Services; with locations in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang, and Njernda Aboriginal Corporation in Echuca.

Expressions of Interest for the second round of the programme are now open until Wednesday, 27 September.

Applications can be made via the Aboriginal Health Practitioner Fluoride Varnish Program

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