Indigenous oral health is widely acknowledged as paralleling the significant issues faced in general health. It is recognized that as part of the process of addressing these issues, practitioners need to be aware of the complex nature of working in an Indigenous social and cultural context, including issues beyond direct health care services.
It is against this backdrop that collaborators from The University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Centre for Rural and Remote Oral Health (CRROH) and Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health (CAMDH) developed a comprehensive, integrated Indigenous Oral Health Curriculum Framework for the Bachelor of Dental Science (BDSc) course. This development was based on the existing framework developed by the Committee of Deans of Australian Medical Schools (CDAMS) for medical education but was tailored to the specific issues and needs of oral health.
Additional consultation with the Oral Health Centre of Western Australia (OHCWA), the School of Indigenous Studies (SIS) as well as Indigenous Australian groups occurred to ensure the development process was inclusive. The inclusion of an Indigenous Oral Health Curriculum Framework in the BDSc will enable UWA dental graduates to practise dentistry in a culturally appropriate manner. The framework provides the structure for students to develop and demonstrate an understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures and social experiences and how these impact on Indigenous peoples’ health. It is anticipated that this will foster more positive and culturally secure patient-practitioner interactions between UWA dental graduates and Indigenous Australians, thereby making it more likely for Indigenous Australians to present for treatment.
The increased awareness of Indigenous oral health issues will hopefully encourage more graduates to become involved in the treatment of Indigenous peoples. The combination of these factors could lead to an improvement in oral health