Reports

The team, led by Jan and John Owen, have made several trips to the Kimberley since 2009 to teach dental health and perform treatment for people in need. The following reports document our trips to the region.



KDT Update and August Trip 2017

We have recently completed our second KDT Kimberley trip for 2017. The August trip started from Broome on 6th August...
Click to read the full August 2017 Update.

Kimberley Dental Team Update May/June 2017

The first trip for 2017 was later than usual start due to many of our dental volunteers attending the ADA Dental Congress in Melbourne in May. The trip started from Broome on 28th May.
Click to read the full May/June 2017 Update.

Kimberley Dental Team Update August 2016

We have recently completed our third KDT Kimberley trip for 2016. It is cold in Perth !!! The August trip started from Broome on 8th August ...
Click to read the full August 2016 Update.

Kimberley Dental Team Update April 2016

We have now completed two KDT Kimberley trips and are preparing for a return to the region on the 6th August for two weeks. The May trip started from Broome on 30th April ...
Click to read the full April 2016 Update.

Kimberley Dental Team Update April 2016

Within the next few weeks our wonderful KDT volunteers will be returning to the Kimberley to provide dental care across the region. As with last year, KDT HQ in Broome will be our start and end point for each of the West Kimberley trips, with teams flying in and out of Kununurra while we are in Halls Creek...
Click to read the full April 2016 Update.

Kimberley Dental Team Update June/July 2015

The June/July 2015 trip was a very productive and successful four weeks of clinical dentistry and oral health education in Broome, Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek as well as 14 communities... Click to read the full June/July update 2015.

Kimberley Dental Team Update May 2015

We are now between the May and June trips and preparing for a return to the Kimberley on the 12th June for four weeks.... Click to read the full May update 2015.

Kimberley Dental Team Update April 2015

It’s almost time for the volunteers of the Kimberley Dental Team (KDT) to be returning to the Kimberley to provide dental care to people of the region. As with last year, the KDT Broome Base house will be our start and end point for each of the trips, with teams coming in and out through Kununurra when we are in the East Kimberley.... Click to read the full April update 2015.

Kimberley Dental Team Update August 2014

Wow what a year! With three Kimberley trips in 2014 now completed the service delivery to remote communities this year has been amazing. Read more about this, the Celebratory Dinner and the August trip. Click to read the full August update 2014.

Kimberley Dental Team Update July 2014

KDT is very proud to report that we have now reached the milestone of having gifted more than $1,000,000 of dental service. Read more about this and the June trip in the July report. Click to read the full July update 2014.

Kimberley Dental Team May 2014 Trip

It is now a few weeks since our May trip and we soon to embark on our June/July trip.
Click to read the full May 2014 report.

Kimberley Dental Team August 2013 Update

It is now a few weeks since our August trip and we have been reflecting on a year of remarkable achievements and events.
Click to read the full August 2013 report.

KDT in Halls Creek and Communities May 2013

We are now between trips and preparing for a return to the Kimberley in August for the 12th trip since our first in May 2009.

At the beginning of May, after flying up to Gibb River community to provide a day of dental care, John and Jan flew back to Willare Roadhouse and met up with Dr Brian Hurwitz and Mylita Power who haddriven the new KDT Dental Trailer (KDTT) across from Broome. Click to read the full May 2013 report.

KDT, Perth, Halls Creek and Communities 2012

Winter has been a busy time for KDT with loads of activities in Perth and the Kimberley. Click here for the August report.

Halls Creek and Communities May 2012

Having recently returned from our May 2012 trip to the East Kimberley we have some great stories to tell. John and I invite you and your colleagues and family to join us for a get-together on the 8th July to celebrate the KDT journey and the many ways that our volunteers, sponsors and supporters contribute to our success.

Click here for the May report.

Halls Creek and Communities May June 2011

KDT recently returned from Halls Creek in June 2011 having provided 6 weeks of dental care and dental health education in the East Kimberley region.

As with previous trips John and I travelled from Perth by helicopter and pushed straight through to Kalumburu where we provided two and a halfdays of dental care. We then flew across the Durack Range to Halls Creek to meet our son David and his family who had driven our vehicle and equipment trailer from Perth. The first team of volunteers flew into Kununurra and drove south to Halls Creek on Sunday the 15th May and the final team helped with the huge pack down task and pulled out of Halls Creek on Saturday 19th June.

The Team:

Our KDT team for this six weeks was made up of 30 members.

  • Week 1. John and I spent at Kalumburu as mentioned. We then supported the team in team in Halls Creek over the remaining 5 weeks.
  • Week 2. Dr John Winters and Mary Winters, dental therapist Sabrina Weaver and dental nurse (DA) Kristal Nettle.
  • Week 3. Dr Daniel Cocker, Dr Moses Lee, final year dental students Yeshani Chandraweera and Ho-Jin Yoo, and DA’s Kate Giorgetta and Kristal Nettle for her second week.
  • Week 4. Dr Neil Burman, Dr John Hearne, DA Helen Bridger and students Yeshani and Ho-Jin for a second week.
  • Week 5. Dr John Lockwood and Cathy Lockwood, Dr Brian Hurwitz, his wife Nicki (a speech pathologist), DA Mylita Power and final year dental students Jilen Patel and Sarah Lam.
  • Week 6. Dr Sue Anderson, Dr Dennis Gregory, DA’s Louisa Dikirr and Veronika Lunn and the second week for Jilen and Sarah. Our son Peter also joined the team for this week to help with general duties, final pack down and the drive home to Perth.

Clinics:

The Halls Creek hospital clinic make an excellent clinical base for the entire trip, providing essential sterilising and x-ray facilities. For the first time the Halls Creek Yuri Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service, YYMS, provided KDT with a clinical room which we set up on Friday mornings to provide dental care for their clients.

Schools:

The Government dental therapy van was based at the school so one of our tasks this trip was to screen the Halls Creek and community children in their schools. KDT also provided a dentist for one session each week, acting as dental officer, to work in and with the DHS van to supervise and manage certain cases.

Communites:

The team worked out of the medical centres in several communities over the 5 weeks. These include Balgo, Mulan, Billiluna, Ringers Soak, Yiyili and Gibb River. For the most part these communities were visited by helicopter however two trips were made to Billiluna, a 2 ½ hour drive, allowing us to take larger teams. YYMS also provided two charter flights to move a larger team to and from Ringers Soak near the northern Territory border.As well as carrying out dental treatment in the medical centres children at the schools were screened and provided toothbrush packs.

Cooperation: 

Wherever we go the Kimberley Dental Team enjoys great success and this is largely due to the generous and very friendly staff at the various community schools and clinics who look so very happy to see us, accommodate our needs and look after us. And when it came to the final pack down YYMS generously provided an area for us to store KDT gear until we return in 2012.

Dental Health:

As well as providing dental treatment KDT educates and encourages teachers, health care workers and parents in the importance of healthy diet and good oralhygiene.  We interact with local people whenever possible including having a presence in local playgroup sessions, the Department of Child Protection hostel and team even manned a dental health table at the community Big Morning Tea in the park on Saturday 28th May. This was a great opportunity for KDT to engage with the local people.

Strong Teeth, Strong Body, Strong Mind booklet:

After a concerted effort to complete the project Jan and John were able to launch the KDT dental health booklet at the HCDHS assembly. Local people were very happy with the style and content and we were able to distribute several thousand while in the region. Yiyili people were especially thrilled to see the cover picture, based on a photo of three Yiyili children, happily brushing. The booklet has been very well received in the Kimberley and also throughout the Pilbara and South West regions of Western Australia.

Fun:

And of course while we were doing all this work we were also having a lot of fun together. Enjoying evening meals together was a highlight, and our Friday evening sundowners at China Wall and Caroline Pool. We even had some ‘serial’ plankers.

Thankyou:

Special thanks to Donna Hindmarsh, Director of Nursing, and to her team at the Halls Creek Hospital for their continued support and assistance. Thanks also to YYMS for their support and for providing charter flights to Ringers Soak and storage for our gear. Our fabulous volunteers, especially Sue, Kristal, Sabrina, Daniel, and Moses who have all now made several trips. Their experience is invaluable and hugely appreciated. We thank our major sponsors and the many dental companies who generously provided donations of stock and toothbrushes.

The E Flyer 8 will provide a more detailed summary of our team aspirations, student development and outcomes for this our seventh trip.

Warmun, February 2011

At the invitation of OVAHS in Kununurra John and I returned to the Kimberley for a 1 week dental visit in February 2011.

We also took the opportunity to spend 2 days in Warmun to set up our new dental clinic with equipment sourced from DentAid in the UK and provide dental treatment to community members. A 3 room transportable had been transformed into a dental clinic by Megan and Eamonn of Gija Total Health. The Gija people were very happy about having their very own dentist and clinic and lined up for examination, scale and clean and treatment.

The remainder of the week was spent working at OVAHS (Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service) where we saw 38 people, providing advice, oral hygiene instruction and minor treatment. As well as working atOVAHS we examined children at the DCP houses and provided dental health education to the children and carers.

In March the community of Warmun was devastated by flood waters and most of the community were evacuated to Kununurra as the community was declared a Disaster Zone. Initial reports stated that the dental building was ‘in the vicinity’. Later reports indicate that the building was intact although for a brief time it had been under about 1 1.2 metres of water.

Naturally we were very distressed for the community and worried about our stock and equipment including the supplies stored there for our 6 week trip to Halls Creek and surrounding communities in May, June of this year. Once the roads were open again to general traffic Jan planned a 2 day trip to Kununurra and Warmun to assess the damage and salvage as much as possible.

The weekend before Easter Jan made a quick weekend trip north and with Kim, (DHS school van nurse based in the East Kimberley) drove down to Warmun and stayed at the roadhouse with the road repair team. They found the damage to the dental building to be relatively minimal compared to the devastation to the town itself. Thanks to the local mechanic, Chook, who cleared the twisted porch struts away to allow access we were able assess the effects on stock and equipment and get busy discarding ruined boxes of gloves etc and scrubbing instruments and gear for sterilisation. The autoclave was on a solid metal cabinet and survived unscathed and the dental chair, being portable and of simple design, will recover with a good scrub. Other equipment such as operating cart, curing light, amalgamator, ultrasonic scaler, evacuation unit and compressor, were not so lucky.

The community was like a ghost town with just a few people, such as Gaye at the Community office, working incredibly hard to restore order. It was very sad to see the devastated Disability House, Frail Aged home, school, medical clinic and art centre and amazing to see that the power of the flood, which left refrigerators lodged high in trees. Hopefully the Gija people are able to return to their community very soon and be a part of the restoration process.

In May we will be returning to Halls Creek with a large team of dental professionals; there will be a team of approximately 6-8 each week with weekend changeover through Kununurra as with past trips. This large team will allow us to work at several communities, and in the schools, aboriginal medical service, frail aged etc while maintaining a daily service at the hospital dental clinic.

Halls Creek and Communities August 2010

KDT returned to Halls Creek and communities in August to provide a further 3 weeks of dental care and dental health education. John and I travelled from Perth to the region by helicopter and, at the invitation of the communities, visited and provided dental care in Kalumburu for a day and a half and Gibb River for a day. Then we travelled across the Leopold Ranges to Halls Creek to meet the volunteer team who had flown into Kununurra and driven down via the picturesque Savannah Way.

The team for Week 1 included Dr Sue Anderson, Dr Richard Koslowski and dental nurse Lana Sullivan. On the Tuesday Richard, Lana and John flew to Balgo for a busy day of patients and on Thursday Sue, John and I flew to Ringers Soak where we set up a dental room in the medical clinic. Both of these community visits were well attended and the people were very grateful to have resolution of what was often chronic pain and infection.

Over the weekend we had a team swap-over in Kununurra, and the new team drove down to join us in Halls Creek. For Week 2 our team included Dr Daniel Cocker, dental nurse Leah Sieler and 2 final year dental students Naomi Kohan and Moses Lee. Daniel had been to Balgo in May and was keen to return with John and Leah for another very full day of patients. Wednesday was a clinic free day and we set off by helicopter and car to visit the Warmun and Crocodile Hole communities. We were made very welcome and treated to lunch by Megan and Eamonn of Gija Total Health, and before heading home called into the Disability House to treat a resident who was suffering dental pain. The helicopter passengers swapped to the car and vice versa so that everyone had the experience of a scenic flight over the majestic Bungle Bungles.

On Thursday Naomi, John and I flew back across the Leopold Ranges to Gibb River and treated a further 22 people from the Gibb River and Mt Barnett Communities. We returned to Halls Creek weary, satisfied with our efforts and ready for Thai Buffet night at the hotel and an opportunity to debate who had the ‘toughest’ cases to treat.

Friday evening after a farewell dinner Naomi and Leah caught the Greyhound bus to Broome for their homeward flights. Saturday was Election Day and we joined the locals at the Halls Creek District High School and then a relaxing coffee and read of the paper at Poinciana Café. Dental Hygienist Sabrina Weaver, having flown into Kununurra, travelled down by Greyhound and arrived at 9.30pm ready for Week 3. Sunday was a great social day with a guided visit by Sciona Browne to the new hostel being built by the Better Life Project to provide accommodation for Indigenous Youth. Then we had an afternoon tea visit by Pip and Dick Smith who were travelling through the region. Afterwards we took a picnic out to Caroline Pool to watch the sunset.

In readiness for his monthly National Dental Board meeting in Melbourne John returned to Perth on the Monday of our final week. Without the helicopter we kept closer to base treating many adults and children including those who travelled from Balgo, Billiluna and Warmun. On Wednesday we made a road trip to Yiyili community; screening and providing DHE to the school children and then treating patient in the Yiyili Medical Clinic. Yiyili has a magnificent art centre and Daniel and I bought beautiful pieces to take home which will forever remind us of this great community and its people.

We were very fortunate that the Nguyuru Waaringarrem Music Festival was held on Saturday and although we had to head off for Kununurra we were able to attend for a couple of hours and enjoy the performances of the children from both local schools.

Once again our thanks to Donna Hindmarsh, Director of Nursing, and her team at the Halls Creek Hospital for their continued support and assistance. Special thanks to Melanie for her clerical support and to Wendy and Liz for their interest in and commitment to ongoing dental health education in our absence. Very special thanks to Ann Mitchell who was instrumental in forging links for the KDT in Halls Creek and has now moved on to work on the development of a hospital in Vietnam.

Halls Creek and Communities May 2010

May 2010 saw the return of KDT to Halls Creek for three weeks of dental care. Fortunately for us this coincided with the return visit of Madjitil Moorna choir during the first week of May and we were able incorporate choir activities, concerts and lots of singing and fun along with our dental schedule. Our son Peter joined us for the three weeks and was a great help with DHE and general support. Choir member Tracy Sandercock joined us on a day trip to Billiluna and Balgo communities where we screened the school children and inspected the dental facilities at the Balgo clinic.

Ray Owen, Daniel Cocker and Kristal Walker flew into Kununurra and travelled down to Halls Creek to join us for week two. On Tuesday we took advantage of the additional team members and made a trip to Ringers Soak community where we screened the school children and several adults. Plans were made with the school and clinic to get some of the urgent cases over to Halls Creek for treatment later in the week. On Thursday Daniel, Kristal and John returned to Balgo to treat the urgent cases and Ray, Jan and Peter stayed in Halls Creek and treated the troupie load of people from Ringers Soak..

The third week was accompanied by an unseasonable and constant downpour that lasted for 6 days and washed out the plans of the National Foundation members who were to join us later in the week. Ray and Kristal returned to Perth at the beginning of this week and we continued to treat the many grateful patients in urgent need including those travelling from Ringers Soak, Billiluna, Frog Hollow, Warmun and Yiyili communities.

With the help of ‘Craig the Crocodile’ we also managed to fit in screenings and DHE at Red Hill School, DCP Hostel and the Kindy and Pre Primary classes at the Halls Creek school as well as screening and DHE for the many families who brought their children into the clinic. In all 850 toothbrush packs were distributed and our thanks to Colgate for their contribution of brushes and paste.

On our return trip to Kununurra Ann, Daniel and I called into the Walumba Hostel, Aged Care Unit in Warmun where we treated two residents who needed extractions and reinforced DHE for the patient we saw in February. His oral hygiene is hugely improved as he is now brushing regularly for probably the first time in his life and he is very proud of the results.

Our thanks to Donna Hindmarsh, Director of Nursing, and her team at the Halls Creek Hospital who welcomed us and were incredibly helpful in every way. Special thanks to Ann Mitchell who is a member of the Kimberley Dental Team (KDT) steering committee, works at the Halls Creek District Hospital as a nurse and midwife, and provided tremendous support for the team before, during and after the May trip.

Their were many highlights of the trip; meeting the Governor General during her visit to Halls Creek, meeting the team from the Generation One bus who were in town, wine and cheese at Caroline Pool at Sunset, sharing meals and lots of laughs with the locals at the Sports Bar to mention a few. However none can compare with seeing the happy, smiling faces of the two children who, after suffering years of pain, had GA’s and treatment in Perth organised by KDT and are now pain free and able to enjoy their lives.

Warmun and Frog Hollow February 2010

John and I travelled to the Warmun community at the invitation of Gija Total Health to screen and where possible treat as many people as possible. We were joined by Isabel Da Silva, courtesy of UWA to manage data entry into the MMEx, the web based software system being developed to greatly assist provision of remote and rural health care. Ann Mitchell also joined us from Halls Creek. Ann is a member of the Kimberley Dental Team (KDT) steering committee and works at the Halls Creek District Hospital as a nurse and midwife.

The dental team was based in the Ngalangangpum School where the Principal Peter, generously allocated a room for us to use. This room was set up as a makeshift clinic to see adults and treat people requiring treatment. The team also went into each class with “Craig the Crocodile” to screen, educate the children and practice tooth brushing. It was a delight to see that so many children have a good level of oral health( 56%) with “only” 10% requiring urgent dental care. It is school policy that children brush their teeth every morning at school and the benefits of this were very obvious.

Gija Total Health, in particular Megan Buckley, co-coordinated and organized our week for us. We were accommodated very well at the roadhouse and thank goodness for its great air-conditioning and fans as the temperatures were 41 degrees in the shade, each day. Our meals were prepared for us by Joan at Mirrilingki Centre next door to the roadhouse and included packed lunch each day.

As well as working within the school we screened and supplied brush packs and specific oral health sheets for the carers who looked after aged or disabled clients. This involved a visit to the Warnum Disability Support House and the Walumba Hostel, Aged Care Unit. One patient in the aged care unit had 2 extractions done so as to relieve his suffering and reduce the need for a trip to Kununurra.

This took us the first 3 days of the week, on Thursday we made a visit 30 minutes south to the community of Frog Hollow where we were warmly welcomed by the staff and students of the Purnululu Aboriginal Community Independent School. Once again we were delighted to see the healthy oral state of most children and the emphasis placed on dental and general health at the school.

The treatment plans for the children and adults screened during this week have been scheduled to make use of the facilities in Kununurra and Halls Creek and the visiting DHS van which is doing an outstanding job of maintaining good oral health for children in the East Kimberley. We have facilitated the care for one young 9 year old boy who requires a GA and 14 extractions at Fremantle Hospital, with Dr Paul Sillifant, Oral and maxillo facial surgeon. He had been on a 12 month wait list.

We firmly believe that the success to health care in the Kimberley and in indigenous populations especially, is excellent networking, coordination and communication between community liaison workers and health professionals and both the government and private sectors. Such coordination through Gija Total health maximized our efforts and brought significant successful outcomes for the Warmun Community.

Halls Creek, May 2009

During and in association with the Madjitil Moorna choir visit In May 2009, we provided DHE for and screened 133 Halls Creek school children under the age of 11 years. We found 38% (51) required urgent dental care and 18% (23) required treatment within six months. Treatment needed included 157 extractions for gross caries, 16 extractions for orthodontic and occlusal balance and 68 restorations were also required in these two groups. 44% of the group were caries free. 247 children and teenagers enrolled at the school were still to be seen.

Approximately 300 toothbrush and paste packs were distributed to the children at the school and they were taught and practiced an effective brushing technique.

At this visit we and several choir members made a commitment to return in August 2009 to provide further education and dental care.

August 2009; a diary of the week

Our team of Dr Brian Koch, dental assistant Kristal Walker, aides Ashleigh Owen and cir members Tracy Sandercock and Jo Randell drove into Halls Creek on Sunday avo and our first call was an orientation visit to the hospital and dental clinic. We also met with the dental therapist Natalie and her nurse Kim who are based in the dental van for the term at the school, they were excited to have our support for the week.

On the Monday John, Brian and Kristal returned to the hospital and Jo, Trace, Ashleigh and I announced ourselves at the school, signed in and went to the pre primary to do a refresher tooth ‘talk and play’ session. Lunch each day was, as in May, sandwiches at ‘our poolside spot’. I spent the afternoon at the hospital clinic and believe me the word was out and the queue was long, we saw a few kids from the school and many adults. To finish the day Sciona organized a sunset wine and snacks at China Wall. Superb.

Tuesday morning was spent at school writing up treatment notes from our May trip for the therapist to use. And organising some of the Kindy’s for treatment at the hospital clinic. One little fella was so upset and in such urgent need that Brian kindly offered to carry out his treatment in Perth under a General Anaesthetic after some preliminary Xrays etc at Johns Midland practice. 6pm saw us join the Community Choir for a singalong. It was good fun and Morwena was thrilled to receive a Songbook and recording of Halls Creek Rodeo. Later at the hotel we made a big ‘tooth fairies’ table at dinner with teachers Rory & Bede, Natalie & Kim, Rosetta the school nurse generalist – and we won the trivia night.

Wednesday the sing/play/teach team had a lovely session at Little Nuggets day care centre, then back to the clinic for me. This morning we treated people from all over; including 2 from Balgo Community and 4 children from Ringers Soak; both places a 3hr+ drive away. Trace and Ash were brilliant dental assistants and gorgeous with the kids. During the morning Jo spoke about Madjitil Moorna and John spoke about the dental needs on HC radio. After lunch the dental team dentalled, Jo networked, Trace and Ash went to visit the Frail Aged. At 6pm we went to the DCP hostel with Craig Crocodile, to talk teeth, give out carrots and play. I’ll be sending Little Nuggets and the Hostel sets of brushes and paste kits for the kids.

Thursday Brian worked at the school van with Natalie and the rest of us went to Red Hill school where we were sweetly welcomed and blessed by the children; we then talked dental health and played with Craig the Croc while John and Kristal screened teeth on the side. It was then time to finish up the few dental patients at the hospital say our goodbyes to Natalie & Kim, he headmaster Gavin, Doreen and the Kids and head on out of town. We lunched 100k’s down the road at Mary’s Pool and then on to Yiyili Community where we met Rosetta the halls Creek Generalist Nurse who had set up a session for us; more teeth talk, play with Craig and screening of about 40 kids. We rolled into Fitzroy about 5.00 justly proud of our week.

Friday morning we went to the Fitzroy hospital to look at the well appointed dental clinic. Then over to the new state of the art school were we had talks about the dental needs of the kids and our Madjitil Moorna work. Then is was back on the road, lunch at Willari Roadhouse and into Broome in time to look at the brand new three surgery clinic in the hospital.

As a result of this visit KDT committed to a minimum of twice yearly visits, of approximately three weeks, to Halls Creek, outlying communities and other Kimberley areas in need.

Thank you to Jo, Trace and Ashleigh without whom we would have been unable to achieve so much and to Brian and Kristal for their generosity and wonderful spirit.


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