Dental Rescue Day helping vulnerable Canberrans receive essential treatment

Raw Potential 11 August 2021
Dentist and assistant working on a patient

The recent inaugural Dental Rescue Day through Raw Potential was a resounding success. Photo: Raw Potential.

Raw Potential is a well recognised local Canberra charity providing outreach services to young people aged 12 to 25 who are facing issues such as homelessness and violence. With its delivery partner, Woden Community Services, Raw Potential recently collaborated with the Australian Dental Association (NSW/ACT Branch) to deliver much-needed dental treatment to vulnerable young Canberrans.

Organised through the Australian Dental Health Foundation, Dental Rescue Day saw a group of Raw Potential clients receive dental treatment from a volunteer Canberra dental team.

Raw Potential youth engagement worker Stacey Hawley, who is based with Woden Community Service, says the impact of Dental Rescue Day was immense.

“One patient had been struggling with pain in her mouth for 18 months,” she says. “On our weekly visits, she would tell me she spends $40 on clover pills and packets of Nurofen, and her tongue would constantly bleed from the sharpness of a broken tooth.

“She doesn’t have family support or knowledge to access the public health system, and she told me for her this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to receive dental treatment.

“Another of the patients has been experiencing anxiety, insecurity and experienced bullying challenges during the last year-and-a-half after a cigarette lighter was thrown in her face, breaking her front tooth in half. She didn’t have the means to get this fixed or the support to be able to make this happen.

“The staff at the practice showed enormous compassion and kindness. By including a commitment to some follow-up care, they will change this young girl’s life by giving her back her perfect smile.”

Raw Potential Canberra board member Barry Sandison said the Dental Rescue Day program worked hand-in-hand with his charity’s goals.

“For people with poor dental health, finding things such as work and other opportunities is hugely challenging,” he says. “If they are also in terrible pain, this impacts hugely on their overall wellbeing.

“Remember, these are young people who find it hard to engage with government programs or access support through the public dental health system.

“At Raw Potential, we are about giving people a chance to fulfil their potential. That goal works perfectly with volunteer dentist schemes such as Dental Rescue Day, which provides the treatment allowing people to do so.”

Raw Potential, Woden Community Service and the Australian Dental Health Foundation are looking to continue this support for vulnerable youth through another Dental Rescue Day later in the year.

This initiative highlights just how valuable organisations such as Raw Potential are to our local community. With an absolute commitment to serving vulnerable young Canberrans, the organisation continuously strives to find ways to increase the level of support it can offer.

Raw Potential relies heavily on local businesses to support its outreach service.

Individuals and organisations wanting to support this local institution can visit Raw Potential.


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