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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin September 2010
33 SEPTEMBER 2010 contingent were assisted by the East Timorese in guerrilla warfare against the invading Japanese. Australian forces have been stationed in East Timor virtually without a break since the Indonesian withdrawal in 1999. While the history is both rich and recent, it is a real reason to consider this professional involvement as a valuable and ongoing process of engagement to our mutual benefit. While driving through the same hills where East Timorese helped to hide our Diggers in World War II, I decided that in our vehicle was the face of the new Australian presence in East Timor -- Dr Ross Brandon.† Since April 2006, Australia has provided more than $25 million in humanitarian aid including food, water and medical supplies. The Timor Gap oil and gas resources will ensure that Australia and East Timor continue to engage at many levels. The complex myriad connections between our countries make an involvement in aiding the dental health of this nation a natural choice for Australians wanting to make a difference. Making a real difference must be the key reason for contemplating any aid work. The need is clear and the links are logical. That week, as we drove up through a 'coffee jungle' of ripening Arabica coffee beans, I went through all the reasons why this initiative should have a clear expectation of achieving the goals it would set: • Cooperativé Café Timor is amongst the major positive reasons for our involvement. Clinic Café Timor is the health arm of this independent, fully East Timorese entity. They have an existing, high quality, infrastructure in terms of their rurally situated health clinics. The on-the-ground logistics are managed by enthusiastic, involved and cooperative partners who welcome and invite our involvement. • Equal Health is an overseas aid fund of Australian health professionals. The author of this article is currently the Chair and it has a long, successful overseas aid history in dental health provision in other countries. Equal Health has tax-deductible status and proven logistical skills in managing overseas aid trips (www.equalhealth.org.au) • The needs of the initiative are essentially simple. The local personnel will benefit from the practical and direct mentorship, training and assistance that can be provided by general practitioner dental professionals coming for a short stay. The needs are not complex or high-end at this stage. Small, easily made improvements will make an enormous difference. REAL PEOPLE REQUIRED But to make a real difference requires real people to volunteer. Can you imagine yourself spending one or two weeks in East Timor? Equal Health will arrange travel via Darwin or Bali for a one or two week period that fits with your schedule. Usually, the Equal Health teams will be small and consist of a dentist and an assistant (nurse, hygienist or therapist.) The field work is in the countryside at CCT clinics. Volunteers will be working alongside the East Timorese team --- helping in every way useful. Accommodation, translators, transport and meals are organized by Equal Health and CCT. The experience leaves an indelible impression on your own, and others, lives. It will be a lasting legacy in the place that still needs Australians to go to help --- a place that deserves our help. East Timor is truly a life changing appointment. Is it in your diary? Simon Shanahan firstname.lastname@example.org DISCLAIMER The statements made in the above article are published on the authority of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the ADA and publishing of them is not to be regarded as an endorsement of them by the ADA. Steep hillside living. DR ROSS BRANDON† • MBBS from Brisbane University in 1979; • Worked for Queensland Health in northern Queensland and had two stints in the Northern Territory in the late 80s and again in the late 90s; • Arrived in East Timor in January 1999 to head the Cooperativé Café Timor health service and has worked there ever since; • Originator, implementer and overseer of CCT health programme -- literally designed the physical buildings, the health programme -- even their logo; • His vision is as a 'strategic driver', not hands-on. It is important to step back and allow mistakes to be made and lessons learnt independently. • Currently managing a shift in focus to community outreach to give health access to more remote rural populations; • States that dental services (along with optical) are almost completely absent in his region and is certain of the need for aid work to assist in filling the gap and leading the way to encourage expansion of service delivery. Joquina, a CCT 'dental nurse' in reality she is an independent dental professional with three years training.
ADA News Bulletin August 2010
ADA News Bulletin October 2010