Spring giving means brighter smiles for Bourke

14 November 2012

Final-year students working on a patient in the Bourke clinic.
Final-year students working on a patient in the Bourke clinic.

Brighter smiles are becoming more common in Bourke thanks to the dental work performed by final-year students from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Dentistry.

A regular dental clinic established in conjunction with the Poche Centre and the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) is providing much needed oral health services to the people of the region, helped in part by generous donors to the University of Sydney.

Funding projects such as the Bourke clinic is one of the key focuses of the University's spring fundraising appeal, to ensure it can continue to make a difference in reversing the trend of poor dental health in the NSW township.

"Previously, patients had to drive more than four hours to Dubbo for assessment and treatment," said Dr Steve Naoum, one of the Faculty of Dentistry experts. "The associated costs and disruption meant that many people were simply unable to afford a visit to the dentist and would suffer through serious pain and discomfort, ultimately compromising their nutritional intake."

For the first time in three years, Bourke patients can now have dentures and mouth guards fitted on the spot. This has had a range of positive effects, including better management of diabetes and a significant reduction in dental sporting injuries for school children. Regular visits have also helped increase awareness around the importance of having a healthy smile.

Final-year student Mark Bennett said working at the Bourke clinic was an amazing experience. "It was great to see how I could make a long-lasting, positive impact in the life of someone who otherwise wouldn't have received critical dental treatment."

To continue the valuable work of the Faculty of Dentistry in remote areas, more funding is needed. It can cost almost $4000 to send one student like Mark to Bourke for each visit.

The University is asking more than 100,000 alumni and friends to give generously during its annual spring appeal. The appeal raises funds that are essential to maintaining our standard of excellence in teaching and research, including by:

  • offering financial assistance to students in need
  • supporting our brightest minds in their postgraduate studies through alumni scholarships
  • working with faculty deans to ensure donor gifts are allocated to where they are needed most.

People who contribute during the spring appeal will join the more-than 7500 people who have already supported the University this year. During last year's appeal, 1466 donors raised more than $257,000. This year we aim to surpass those records in an effort to have more than 10,000 people actively supporting the University in 2012.

Regardless of the dollar value, every gift makes a real difference in the lives of our students. Here are some recent examples.

  • 20 donors who each gave $10 helped a student in financial distress buy text books
  • 200 donors who each gave $200 were able to create scholarships for two of our students to teach locals in a Peruvian shanty town how to access water by creating an inexpensive 'fog harvesting' system 
  • A gift of $1000 from 100 donors enabled the Faculty of Pharmacy to offer a PhD scholarship for a determined student to work on a research project investigating ways to reduce the toxicity from chemotherapy for cancer patients
  • $50,000 gave two financially disadvantaged students the opportunity to complete a four-year degree at the University of Sydney.

The support we receive from alumni and friends during the spring appeal shows that our work matters to you. Look out for your appeal form in the post; otherwise you can donate securely online through the Support Sydney website, or contact us on 02 8627 8818.

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Enquiries: Katie Horrex, 02 8627 8821, 0404 299 951,