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Indigenous Dental Assisting students shine

Wes Williams-Boney delivering the student Vote of Thanks

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health held their Dental Assisting graduation ceremony at TAFE Western Sydney’s Nepean College on Friday 24 June, 2016. Twelve Certificate III and eight Certificate IV Dental Assisting students were presented with their qualifications. This brings the number of graduates to 60 since the program began with a 99.5% successful course completion rate. Past students have gone on to complete additional qualifications with one student currently studying a Bachelor of Oral Health at the University of Sydney.

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health formed a partnership with TAFE Western Sydney’s online and distance education provider, OTEN (Open Training & Education Network) to get the course underway in 2014. With funding support from the Centre for Oral Health Strategy and the Rotary Club of Sydney, scholarships were offered to Indigenous students all over NSW.

Paul Talbot was amongst the first intake of scholarship students from Boggabilla and graduated with a Certificate IV in Dental Assisting on Friday. After achieving excellent results in his Certificate III in Dental Assisting, Paul moved to Sydney to complete his Certificate IV and commence his Diploma in Dental Technology.

“The scholarship from Poche Centre gave me the opportunity to better my career and achieve my goals. This experience was one of the best and most successful journeys of my life. I am growing in my career and taking what I have learnt back to Boggabilla. I do denture clinics for the elderly and mouth guard clinics for the youth,” said Paul.

“I liked the way the OTEN study program allowed me to come in for training in block periods, gain lots of experience and hands on practical time with the teachers. I could still work and keep up with my other studies so I decided to go back to do the Certificate IV with OTEN. After starting the Diploma of Dental Technology, I have been accepted into the Diploma of Prosthetist which will allow me to work on patients in my community.”

“Growing up in Boggabilla there wasn’t much to do. There was going to school or heading down to the Macintyre River where most of us went camping or learnt how to fish. Now I’m living in Sydney which was quite a big change coming from a little country town. It took me a bit to get used to; city life, busy life and fast life, but now I love it.”

“The reason I took on this course was because I was working as a Dental Assistant unqualified and I wanted to get my qualifications. I wanted to have that Certificate, not just for work but for myself.”

A quiet and conscientious student, Paul grew in confidence as he went through the Dental Assisting courses. Paul’s teachers are amazed at the transformation in two short years from shy and unassuming student to mentor and proud ambassador of the program.

Certificate IV Dental Assisting graduate and student speaker, Wes Wiliiam-Boney was full of praise for the Poche Centre Staff and OTEN Dental teachers. “They believe in us. And that’s something you don’t always get,” says Wes. “Sure, people are there now and then and might support you. But to believe in us? That’s the spark that ignites our ability to achieve.”