According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey one in six women experience domestic violence at the hands of a partner, however the Australian Dental Health Foundation is receiving applications to assist women by providing free dental care for oral injuries.
The Foundation’s Rebuilding Smiles program delivers pro bono dental treatment to women experiencing domestic violence who may have suffered immediate dental trauma or ongoing oral health problems.
By working with domestic violence support agencies, the Foundation receives applications for assistance from affected women and their families and then places them with Australian dentists who provide their treatment free of charge.
Rebuilding Smiles delivered more than $65,000 of pro bono care to women who had experienced domestic violence in 2017/2018 and $164,423 in 2018/2019.
In the last financial year 39 women from around Australia had treatment completed at an average cost of $4,250 per case and another 98 women are currently undergoing remedial dental work.
The ABS Report noted ‘that being pushed, grabbed, or shoved was the most common physical assault behaviour experienced by women, regardless of the perpetrator type and that women were more likely to have been kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or choked, when the perpetrator was a male partner compared with another known male (such as a family member or friend).’
As a result, victims often need require complex and extensive care including dentures, crowns, bridges and implants.
The Foundation meets the costs of these treatments from funds donated from the public, various state governments, corporate sponsors and the Australian Dental Association.
Robert Boyd-Boland, Secretary to the Foundation said as the figures suggest, the demand for dental care for victims has seen significant annual growth.
"The recent ABS statistics indicate this significant demand for dental care will continue to increase," Mr Boyd-Boland said.
”The great thing about the Rebuilding Smiles program is that it restores women’s self-esteem and self-confidence and enables them to go out into the world, start their social life again, apply for jobs, even begin new relationships. This independence helps them feel they’re part of their community again."
“However while the Foundation is currently able to meet current demand, the steady increase in demand means we urgently need more help if victims are to be supported.”
Kylie, NSW, a Rebuilding Smiles patient said she never imagined such compassion and generosity until she had experienced it from them.
"Not only have I regained my smile, but I have also regained a little faith in humanity. Both are priceless to me. ‘Thank you’ seems grossly inadequate but it's all I can offer," she said.
Ways to help:
1. If you’re dentist who wishes to provide pro bono dental care to victims, contact the ADHF on (02) 88153333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Make a tax deductible donation to the Foundation by visiting: https://www.adhf.org.au/make-a-donation/