For the first time ever, 11 Aboriginal students from the Central West, North Western and Far West regions of New South Wales have started a pathway towards dental careers.
In an innovative approach the students are undertaking the Certificate III in Dental Assisting through TAFE Western’s new ‘Winhanganha’ Aboriginal Learning Centre in Orange. The program also includes the development of other learning skills through a customised version of the Certificate II in Skills for Work and Training.
The iSmile Training program developed by TAFE Western in collaboration with the Australian Government, Western NSW Local Health District, Bila Muuji Aboriginal Health Service Inc and Charles Sturt University aims to provide Aboriginal students with a pathway to either a career in oral health therapy and dentistry or other health industry areas.
Ms Lisa Byrne, TAFE Western’s Winhanganha Head Teacher said, “There is currently only one Aboriginal dentist in all of western NSW. We hope that this program will be the start of a change in our community where more Aboriginal people enter a range of health careers including dentistry.
“Dentistry is an expanding health area and the iSmile Program will address the current dental assisting training gap in western NSW and provide a pathway to higher education and employment.
“Students attend classes the first week of every month, where they have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art dental equipment and resources.”
All 11 students participating in the program said they were a bit nervous but looking forward to the hands-on component of the course and work placement. Student, Mattise Boney from Lightning Ridge said, “I enjoy coming to Orange once a month for practical. I am finding the course very interesting and the learning environment at TAFE Western inspiring.”
Any Aboriginal people interested in the iSmile Training Program should call 1300 823 393 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org