UNGOOROO Aboriginal Corporation are set to benefit from the permanent donation of the University of Newcastle's oral health van.
The van had been used throughout the year by the University's Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy students to complete their clinical placements at the Ungooroo site in Singleton.
Thirty-six final year students, along with their superiors, offered services twice weekly to Ungooroo children aged 1-18.
Associate Professor Janet Wallace, program convener of the Oral Health Therapy degree, said the initiative was made possible after receiving a $6,000 (US) Wrigley Company Foundation Community Service Grant.
"We used that money to help us provide consumables at the van; so things we need to provide clinical care," Ms Wallace said.
"This is the first time the program has been involved there [Ungooroo] and its a great way for students and oral practitioners to give back to the community. We've got an MOU [memorandum of understanding] with Ungooroo and we'll have students there next year aswell."
The van was previously used in a mobile capacity at locations around the university's Ourimbah campus – where the Oral Health Therapy degree is run.
"For a number of years the van was on the Central Coast and traveled around to a couple of different sites and provided examinations and cleaning.
"There was an opportunity to work with Ungooroo, who were working out of portable equipment and didn't have a proper dental service, so we worked with them and moved our van out there.
"The students have loved the experience, the feedback from both the students and staff at Unogooroo has been fantastic."
Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation chief executive offiver Taasha Layer said the partnership has helped fill a gap in dental health services for Ungooroo’s community.
“It’s a service that’s been really lacking in the upper hunter,” she said.
“The closest one they were going to was Awabakal in Newcastle. So it’s really created a needed service in the community.”
The Wrigley Company Foundation Community Service Grants, co-administered by the Australian Dental Health Foundation, aim to help bridge the gap in access to oral care services across Australia.
The grants have helped enable many similar initiatives around the country and Ms Layer said the students had been inspired by the program.
“They’ve really enjoyed working with the indigenous community and some of them have asked for a further placement back at Ungooroo or in an another indigenous community health organisation.”