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Ingham community all smiles with first Indigenous dental assistant trainee joining the team

Published:  22 July 2020

The Ingham Community Health Service has welcomed a new Indigenous dental assistant trainee to the team as part of an initiative to provide more culturally safe oral health care to First Nations people and enhance the regional oral health workforce.

Ingham High graduate and dental assistant trainee Strayte Huxley-Wilkie said when she saw the opportunity to start her career in oral health she knew she had to take it.

“I have always had a personal interest in oral health so when an opportunity came up to work in an area I felt passionate about I jumped at it,” Strayte said.

Senior dental assistant Belinda Castorina said the initiative would benefit the Hinchinbrook community.

“A number of our patients identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; having a qualified dental assistant who is also Indigenous can play a big role in making our First Nations people feel culturally supported during their oral health care and help our health service Close the Gap” Belinda said.

“It can also be difficult to find dental assistants in rural communities so training in house is a huge advantage.”

Belinda said Strayte was very enthusiastic about her role.

“Strayte’s training over the next 12 months will be really hands-on. She will be working alongside our dentists and oral health therapists, preparing treatment rooms, selecting, transferring and sterilising equipment, as well as teaching oral health promotion to the local community and school students,” she said.

“She’s been excellent so far; she’s shown great interest in what we do here, has already done a few chair-side appointments and asked lots of questions.

“It’s very rewarding for us to be part of her future career, the sky’s the limit for these young people.”

Strayte said she was already looking to her future once she completed her traineeship.

“After the 12 months if it’s something I enjoy I’d definitely like to look at going to uni to study and become a dentist,” she said.

Strayte is one of two Indigenous dental assistant trainees to start at the Townsville HHS, with the initiative jointly funded by the Queensland Health Clinical Excellence Division and Townsville HHS.

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