The Australian Dental Outreach Foundation provides oral care to the neediest members of the community across South Australia. Catering to school children, the elderly and the disabled, they provide a wide array of services with flexible delivery so that they can adequately cater to those with limited access.
After donating our sterile instruments to their outreach programme, we were keen to find out what it takes to provide this service free of charge. We sat down with ADOFI founder Brett Miller to discuss how the foundation functions, what obstacles they face and what they have planned for the future.
Brett also works as the group general manager of The Miller Dental Group (the largest independently owned dental provider in Australia), is an ambassador for the Grow Up Smiling programme (one of the largest oral health care outreach services of its kind for school-aged children in Australia) and somehow found the time to also win the 2017 National Practice Manager of the Year award. He’s clearly devoted to providing accessible dental care and is obviously a very busy man! We were very thankful to steal his precious time for this exclusive.
So Brett, can you give us some insight into the journey of the ADOFI – what is the overall goal, how did it begin and how has it evolved over time?
The Australian Dental Outreach Foundation is an Australian based Health Promotion Charity which provides mobile dental treatment and related services to access constrained members of the Australian community. Our service extends across metropolitan, regional and remote Australia and partners with facilities including schools (at no out of pocket expense to the school/students) and nursing home residents to provide care to those in greatest need.
The primary goal of Dental Outreach is to provide oral care to the neediest members of the community across South Australia. Such patients include children, the elderly, the disabled and seriously ill. Since our inception, our mission remains to extend dental services to provide coverage to all underserved communities across Australia through mobile outreach related initiatives.
How many services are offered by the foundation?
We’re forecast to hit nearly 10,000 dental services in 2018 alone which spans to extend examinations, preventative and emergency dental treatment in addition to oral health education.
To what extent do you rely on volunteers, funding, and product donation?
We do not have any employees, so our services are enabled through our dental partners. We are funded primarily through donations and support from organisations as well as donations of equipment and consumables.
What supplies are the most helpful and what could you benefit from having more of?
Any donations are gratefully accepted. Logistically we are investigating improved transportation options for our dental equipment and partners – this extends to the purchase of dental vans to better support, augment and increase our service offerings for regional communities. Clinical equipment is expensive, with equipment for one team alone costing in excess of $150,000. In seeing so many patients this means our needs extend from equipment to consumables, so donations have certainly supported the sustainability of our operations.
Is there anything that you wish more people knew about the organisation or the issues you are trying to solve?
Oral health for the elderly plays an essential role in the quality of life, management of medical problems, nutrition, and social interaction. Many residents are functionally dependent on assistance from others for help with daily activities such as tooth cleaning and feeding.
What are the main obstacles the foundation has faced over the years?
Managing massive need is our largest challenge within a volunteer-based structure devoid of any government funding. We don’t have local, state or federal government support to underpin our programmes at the moment, which means we operate through the generosity of dental partners and donations (both corporate and philanthropic).
From memory, what is the most rewarding experience you have had with the ADOFI?
Being able to take the pain away from patients young and old, and put a smile back on their face is always memorable and is something we do hundreds of times each month.
Where do you see the ADOFI in five years?
We hope to increase our services to extend across Australia – in particular to regional Western Australia and remote Eastern Australia, where public dental waiting lists are the greatest, local services are over capacity (or don’t exist) and where the demand is the greatest.
What would make the greatest difference in helping the ADOFI achieve greater success?
It’s not one single thing that we can identify; rather it’s continuing to grow our volunteer base of dental teams and those generous enough to throw their support and donations behind our cause. Such donations make what we do possible, and we can’t thank them enough.
If you would like to get involved with the Australian Dental Outreach Foundation, you can contact them to volunteer and donate here: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to find out more about the charities and organisations we work with, you can view these on our Charities page.