Assessment of oral health is particularly important for people of refugee and asylum seeker background, with reports, locally and internationally, indicating high levels of untreated caries or dental decay compared to the general population.
Of the 4,923 people assessed by the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture in Melbourne between 2009 and 2011, 17.2% required referral for dental treatment that ranged from minor restorative work to substantial specialist care. Some client groups from particular countries had a much higher rate of dental care need of up to 36.4% (the average prevalence of dental decay is 25.5% in the general Australian population).
To learn more about oral health education strategies to assist you to work with people of refugee backgrounds visit pp.97-101 of the Promoting Refugee Health Guide.
Oral health capacity building project in Victoria
In response to oral health care needs of refugee and asylum seeker populations and the Victorian Dental Health Funding Reform, Priority group access and Fee waiver policies, the Victorian Refugee Health Network worked in partnership with Dental Health Services Victoria and a Project Advisory Group to create the Oral Health Sector Capacity Building Project which aimed to support and strengthen the capacity of public dental services in Victoria to deliver responsive oral health care to refugee and asylum seeker clients in Victoria.
The Refugee Oral Health Sector Capacity Building Project has achieved several outcomes that included:
- Resource mapping, resource development and the creation of an oral health resource library linking existing oral health resources to this website (including the newly developed Oral Health Factsheet 1 and 2) and Model of Care. Visit the resources via our Library.
- Development, delivery and evaluation of a Targeted Education Program in refugee oral health with a Western Region Health Centre, a public dental service in a high refugee settlement area.
Victorian Refugee Health Network oral health resources:
- Refugee Oral Health Sector Capacity Building
- Refugee Oral Health Sector Capacity Building Project Brief
- Refugee Oral Health Targeted Education Program (a learning and professional development program for oral health providers)
- Refugee Oral Health Project Advisory Group membership
- Refugee oral health resource library
For referral information visit Refer – Oral Health.