Project Report: Biripi Aboriginal Medical Corporation (BAMC) – Outreach Work

Ongoing Visits by A/Prof David Sherring, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon 2023-2024

ANZAOMS was approached in 2022 by the Biripi Aboriginal Medical Corporation (BAMC) for assistance in treatment of their people requiring the services of a volunteer Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.

The Biripi people live on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, with their traditional lands incorporating the major population centres of Port Macquarie, Taree, Wauchope and Gloucester. The Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander population comprises approximately 6.2% of 94,000 residents.

The community is well served by the BAMC, established in 1981, providing culturally appropriate care including:

  • Aged Care
  • Health Services
  • Programs and Community Support
  • Biripi Aboriginal Children Services – Out of Home Care

OMS joined a wide variety of visiting specialist and allied health services to the BAMC including Endocrinology/General Physician, ENT and Paediatricians.

All OMS procedures are undertaken from the Dental Oral Health clinic in Purfleet. At the commencement of these services there was a full-time Dentist, part time Oral Health Therapist and two full-time Dental Assistants. Unfortunately, for the past eight months, there is a visiting Dentist one day per week and a Dental Assistant three days per week, despite vigorous attempts to recruit a badly needed full-time dentist.

There is currently no access to provide GA services and therefore all OMS procedures are undertaken in the clinic. Visits are every four to six weeks with two long days being spent in the clinic by the OMS and his volunteer nurse. Non-disposable surgical equipment is provided by the surgeon.

The waiting list for treatment was over five years when this service commenced – management of patients on this waiting list had been relief of pain, prescription of antibiotics and, on occasion, admission to the Manning Base Hospital for management of more persistent infection. The nearest public OMS service was provided by John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

The opportunity to volunteer and provide a valuable service to this community has been rewarding. The waiting list for treatment has been reduced significantly however, with the lack of a full-time dentist, the oral health of the people served by the BAMC is in danger of falling. I thank ANZAOMS for the opportunity to become involved in this outreach activity. We are a scarce resource with skills sadly required in many communities here in Australia and overseas. I would encourage any member with the opportunity to become involved to raise their hand.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.

Winston S. Churchill

What is ANZAOMS?

The Australian and New Zealand Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (ANZAOMS) is the professional representative organisation for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS).

Our focus is on the advancement, advocacy for, and continuing education of OMS, through engagement with all levels of government, regulators, key public and private stakeholders and the general public.

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ANZAOMS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and work, and all Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia. We recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ continuing connection to land, place, waters and community. We pay our respects to their cultures, country and elders past present and emerging.

ANZAOMS recognises the unique role of Māori as Tangata Whenua and embraces Te Tiriti o Waitangi recognising Māori as tino rangitiratanga of Aotearoa/New Zealand while embracing the three guiding principles of the Treaty – Partnership Participation and Protection. We will endeavour to implement bicultural policies and practices that incorporate and value Māori cultural concepts, values and practices.