Case Study 4: Danilla Dilba Health Service, Darwin, NT (2013)

This service had heard of FTG when it carried out earlier work with the Larrakia nation in Darwin but Danilla Dilba had not been involved in that process. There were some internal difficulties in the service and new staff and a new board had come into the service.  During this time though funding was cut and this left their clients/patients in precarious circumstances.

The service approached FTG on the basis of wanting to maintain commitments to their patients, in the absence of any funding. There were no salaries for dentists or dental assistants nor any funding for consumables.

So FTG recruited teams of one dentist and two dental assistants. The Practice Manager was an oral therapist and there were two chairs – so FTG was able to ensure coverage. FTG worked on the basis of teams of three rotating every two weeks.  FTG sustained that service for 7 to 8 months.

Accommodation is very expensive in Darwin, and quite unexpectedly the rent being billed to FTG was reduced about one third of what it should have been.  FTG found that the landlord had heard about the good work that the team was doing and reduced the rent!

There was a demonstrated need, there was demonstrated management capacity, FTG showed that it was able to meet the needs for 8 months, funding was restored and then FTG moved on.

“Danila Dilba Health Service has been extremely fortunate in having had the invaluable assistance and support of the Filling the Gap team over the past 12 months. The professional support and assistance of the volunteer dental team has enabled DDHS to provide much needed dental services to Aboriginal people who in all likelihood, would not have been able to access treatment elsewhere.

The volunteer dental program has enabled DDHS to plan and budget for the establishment of our own dental team in 2014.

DDHS strongly supports and encourages other Aboriginal community controlled health services to collaborate with The Filling the Gap team and their volunteers particularly in communities where there is limited or poor access to dental services.”  – Olga Havnen, (CEO Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin)

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