A drive to recruit 100 new dental assistants across the state is already delivering improved access to oral health care for thousands of Victorians, including in Melton.
The Dental Assisting Traineeship Program is providing recruits with the required training, mentoring and supervision to undertake the Certificate III Dental Assisting traineeship. A key feature of the program is the earn and learn model where trainees are offered a paid position for 12 months followed by further opportunities for ongoing career progression.
With $3 million in funding from the Victorian Government, the Department of Health is leading this key workforce initiative in collaboration with Jobs Victoria. Dental Health Services Victoria has been chosen as the lead public oral health agency to deliver this program, which will provide employment opportunities to people who are experiencing long term unemployment, culturally diverse women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and newly arrived migrants.
As of March 2023, 24 trainees have commenced work with another ten due to start the program over the coming weeks. Of the 34 new hires, ten will work with the Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne, 15 in metro dental agencies, and nine in regional Victoria. Of the successful candidates, almost all are women with one in five being newly arrived migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Those recruited through the program are learning skills that can lead to many career opportunities, including working with the Smile Squad program. Smile Squad provides students enrolled in government schools with a range of completely free check-ups and treatment, including teeth cleaning, fluoride application, fissure sealants, fillings, root canals, and any other non-cosmetic treatments to ensure our children have healthy teeth.
As of February 2023, Smile Squad has provided more than 82,000 individual appointments for students across 362 schools and handed out more than 350,000 oral health packs.
In the 2019-20 Victorian Budget, the Victorian Government provided $321.9 million in funding over four years for the delivery of Smile Squad to all Victorian government schools, and in 2022-23 an additional $16.9 million was provided to gradually expand the program to low-fee non-government schools.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas
“Victorians deserve quality dental care with minimal wait times, and we’re building up our dental system and workforce to ensure that we provide this now and into the future.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Melton Steve McGhie
“This recruitment drive for dental assistants is simultaneously improving the oral health of our kids and providing stable careers for members of the Melton community.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Employment Ben Carroll
“The Jobs Victoria Dental Assisting Traineeships is a great opportunity for people looking to work in public dental services and set themselves up for meaningful careers.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins
“Smile Squad gives our kids healthy smiles and saves parents time and money – great news for Victorian families as the cost-of-living rises.”