WIL: brightening smiles in Timor and UoN
Improving the dental health and hygiene of hundreds of children and orphans in an isolated area of West Timor is the aim of an annual trip organised by University of Newcastle staff.
Oral Health lecturers Associate Professor Jane Taylor and Linda Wallace, from the University of Newcastle’s Central Coast campus, have organised the health outreach trips to Soe in an isolated area of West Timor since 2008. The students work with the lecturers to share their knowledge of oral hygiene and to provide basic dental care for hundreds of isolated villagers and children from Project Lily Orphanage.
Taking the classroom overseas presents many organisational challenges, which are outnumbered by the benefits gained by the students and staff who take part, Associate Professor Taylor said.
“The Soe villagers do not have regular access to dental health care, so our trips can have a real and lasting impact on the overall health of these children and people," she said.
“By taking part in the trip our students are exposed to situations they may never see as an oral health practitioner in Australia. This helps to expand their clinical knowledge and is an excellent application of the theory and practise that they have learned at university.
“It is also an excellent opportunity to apply their skills to help others, and is a rewarding experience on a personal level as well as helping to open their minds, and give them a more global perspective on the role that they can play in improving the health and wellbeing of people.
"For me personally, each year, I gain a valuable insight into my work in practice, both as a oral health practitioner and as a lecturer."
WIL Awards 2012
Associate Professor Taylor and Mrs Wallace were the Faculty of Health winners of the 2011 Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Awards.
Each year the Office for the Advancement of Engaged Learning awards staff and students of the University of Newcastle who have exhibited excellence in the promotion of or participation in WIL programs. A staff and student award is given for representative from each faculty, with the winners receiving $1,000 each.
Both professional and academic staff can enter the annual awards, which will this year be presented at an awards ceremony to be held at the University Gallery on Tuesday 23 October.
Associate Professor Taylor encouraged all staff involved in WIL programs to consider applying for the WIL Awards.
"Our motivation for organising the annual trip is to give our students opportunities to graduate ready for their career, and with ample real-world experiences. Receiving the WIL Award was a surprise, but was a welcome acknowledgement of the efforts of our staff and the students themselves to make the annual trip a success," she said.
Nominations for the 2012 WIL Awards, close on Friday 14 September at 5pm.
Project Lily Orphanage was established by Central Coast church, Coastlife. The University’s trip to West Timor is part of an initiative organised by Coastlife and Mercy Indonesia to provide free health services for orphans and people from the Soe district.
For information on the WIL Awards and for nomination forms visit www.newcastle.edu.au/business-community/work-integrated-learning/#staff-awards