Our annual 16 Days in WA campaign, starting on 25 November, aims to stop violence against women.
A group of Perth-based dentists is making a big difference to the lives of family and domestic violence survivors.
As members of the Women in Dentistry Society, they have established Healing Smiles, a program that provides pro bono dental treatment to women who have experienced family and domestic violence.
Members volunteer their time and skills to help women access treatment, from basic dental work and cleaning to replacing damaged crowns, dentures and providing dental fillings.
Clinical Coordinator Dr Jacinta Vu said improving a woman’s smile had a major impact on their self-esteem.
“They feel empowered. It makes a difference for women to go out with confidence, find a job and move forward with their lives,” she said.
“Our clients become different people, having a smile that they are happy with.”
Image: Clinical Coordinator Dr Jacinta Vu (centre) with previous Clinical Coordinators Dr Zara Torre (left) and Dr Gosia Barley (right) are helping survivors of family and domestic violence to restore their smile.
Women in Dentistry Society is a not-for-profit organisation initially formed to support women working in the industry. With backing from the Australian Dental Association (WA) branch, the group’s focus has expanded to assist the wider community through fundraising events, with donations made to different charities and organisations, as well as for research in dentistry.
Dr Vu said it was through this work that the group saw a need to help survivors of family and domestic violence, leading to the formation of Healing Smiles.
“At the time, there was a strong community awareness and growing media attention of family and domestic violence issues. We realised incidents of violence happen across all socio-economic backgrounds,” she said.
“Members of our group have many skills; there was an opportunity to use our talents and volunteer our time to help women who can’t afford dental treatments.”
Image (L-R): Healing Smiles committee members and volunteers Dr Tracey Gold, Dr Amanda Phoon Nguyen and Dr Lida Sayadelmi.
While Healing Smiles assists many women in the Perth metropolitan area, Dr Vu said the team wanted to expand into regional areas and invited more dentistry volunteers to come forward.
Grants for Women
Healing Smiles is one project that has recently received funding through the Department of Communities’ Grants for Women program to continue and extend its service.
Applications for the next funding round for Grants for Women are now open.
Grants of up to $10,000 are available for local government and community service organisations for projects that address unique issues faced by women, with a focus on four priority areas.
This includes safety and justice, and initiatives that raise awareness and contribute to preventing gender-based violence in the community and workplace.
Applications close on Thursday 26 November. More information is available on the Communities website.