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Colin Mitchell has a Yarn about the Importance of Dental Health.

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Colin Mitchell Aboriginal Development Program Lead Dental Health Services Victoria. Colin is a Wemba Wemba\Goring Goring man from Echuca. Colin’s main role is to keep DHSV Culturally Safe & Appropriate. Colin is my special guest around 8.30 this morning.

Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) provides quality public oral healthcare for Victorians.

These services are provided through the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne and through community health agencies throughout Victoria, from whom DHSV purchases dental services for public patients.

Create better Pathways for Aboriginal people to access oral health

Current Programs: Launch their Cultural Protocol Guide Fluoride Varnishing for Medical Practitioners Little Koorie Smiles Healthy Families, Healthy Smiles Oral Health Education for Midwives Services provided • Bulk-billed dental care for children • Free dental work performed by undergraduate dental students. Eligibility criteria apply. • Free dental treatment. Eligibility criteria apply. Eligibility

How to access If you have a Dental emergency, call 1300 360 054 General dental, call (metropolitan) (03) 9341 1000 General dental, call (rural) 1800 833 039

Visit the Dental Health Services Victoria website. Dental services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) is passionate about reducing the huge gaps that exist between the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the rest of the population.

We work closely with Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (VACCHO) and other Aboriginal Community organisations to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients through the public dental health system.

We understand that coming to a large hospital like The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM) can be a little scary. You can request time with our Aboriginal Liaison Officer for a chat or if you and your family require ongoing support throughout your course of dental treatment.

What does it cost? At RDHM: If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you can get free: • emergency dental care • general dental care • denture care. However, if you need specialist care we will work out how much you need to pay. Are there waiting lists? There are no waiting lists for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander patients for general dental care and denture care. We will offer you the first appointment that is available. There are waitlists for specialist care and an appointment is offered when your name comes to the top of the list.

DHSV Reconciliation Action Plan DHSV has developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to replace the Aboriginal Oral Health Plan. The RAP provides the framework for a more culturally safe, dynamic, innovative and diverse workforce. It supports opportunities to work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and build on the work we continue to do.

A young Gunaikurnai man growing up in Broadmeadows, Robert Critch was too busy working and worrying about his finances to give his dental health a second thought. It wasn’t until he had to have the last of his natural teeth extracted at the age of 27 that he realised the consequences of poor oral health.

Robert has had different sets of dentures made over the years. Unfortunately he found that none of them fit properly, so he chose to manage without teeth for over 30 years. “I’m nearly 60. Since I was in my twenties, when I had my teeth pulled out, I felt like no one listened to me. My dentures never fit right and were really uncomfortable, so I didn’t wear them,” he said.

Not having teeth caused Robert to lose confidence. He also had to modify his diet and give up his favourite foods.

“I used to love eating frankfurters but I ended up having to buy the skinless ones because I couldn’t break the skin with my gums. So I’d sit at the dinner table having to pull the skin out of my mouth and it didn’t look very good at all,” said Robert.

He decided then to try and find suitable dentures to improve his appearance and self esteem. He got in touch with The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM) and has been attending denture appointments with John Kamater. He is optimistic that this time he will get the smile he has always dreamed of.

“John’s been really good. He said we’ll get a comfortable set of dentures for me. John said that because I can’t chew properly it can cause trouble internally, bad digestive issues. I didn’t realise that.

“John has broadened my understanding of my other health issues.He said that because I’m on blood thinning medication, it affects how I can hold on to the teeth. My suction is no good. He has also given me confidence. I never had that before,” he said. “I love apples, especially Granny Smiths, but it’s a bit hard when you try to gum it to death and get nowhere. I can’t wait to eat an apple!”

As Robert is talking about his experience, John suggests that he puts his new dentures in so he can smile for the camera. Robert isn’t used to smiling. He said, “I can’t wait to look happy, instead of looking grumpy all the time.” John holds up a mirror so Robert can see his new smile. He is clearly pleased with what he sees. “I’m happy but I’ll be happier when I can chew properly and smile at my granddaughter.”

For a full list of eligibility criteria regarding free dental treatment, visit


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