Walgett, New South Wales

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd

Walgett is a small town about 9-10 hours drive northwest from Sydney, getting close to the Queensland border.  The Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (WAMS) is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation providing comprehensive primary health care, with WAMS’s dental program being the major dental provider in town.

The dental program operates from a well equipped 2-surgery dental clinic and employs local staff who manage and run the program at all levels, with a dental/oral health therapist and dentist.

There are high levels of dental disease, which reflect also other health and social conditions.  With high levels of conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, low employment opportunities, poor school attendance, and high rates of domestic violence, we have to consider carefully how we can improve oral health.  Until such time as other health, social and economic standards improve, only then will we be able to see real gains in oral health improvement.

The WAMS dental program:

  • supports local staff to gain appropriate qualifications in Dental Assisting, oral health promotion and management
  • provides comprehensive dental care – to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people – of Walgett and surrounding areas
  • delivers a coordinated school based preventive dental program including regular screening, application of Fluoride varnish, evidence based clinical care and school based toothbrushing
  • advocates for improved access to healthy water (see below)
  • works with preschools, families and General Practitioners to deliver a coordinated Fluoride varnish program to the under 5s
  • works with the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health to collect oral health data
  • participates in annual health checks for all the community, involving coordination with other program areas such as diabetes, chronic disease, midwifery, elders
  • works with partners to coordinate local health promotion and outreach activities
  • provides advice and support to other rural and remote dental programs.

Water for Walgett Kids March 2015

WAMS and the local School received funds from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, and have partnered with the Rotary Club of Dee Why Warringah and Healthabitat to install a water chiller in the local primary school.  Chilling the water makes it more palatable and refreshing and will encourage the kids to drink more water at school, which will be especially beneficial once the Council turns on the Fluoride into the water supply, which we hope will occur some time in the middle of 2016.


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