The University of Newcastle, Australia

Cold feet for a good cause

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

A team of five final year podiatry students and two staff members attended the NAIDOC Central Coast Local Health District show day at Gosford Racecourse to offer free foot health screenings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.

Podiatry team

This is the 7th consecutive NAIDOC health screening that UON Podiatry has been involved with.

“It’s great to see the acceptance of foot health screening by the community. When we first provided foot health screenings at a NAIDOC event seven years ago many people were reluctant to take their shoes off. Now we’re part of the furniture. People come with questions about their feet and niggling problems that they’re concerned about but haven’t sought treatment for,” Podiatry lecturer Dr Fiona Hawke said.

The community embracing the service was reflected in the students providing foot health checks to 186 people who presented to receive a foot screening. Foot screening includes talking about foot concerns and risk factors for problems, visual inspection of the feet, and basic testing as required.

From the 186 foot screenings, 64 referrals were made to the University of Newcastle Student Podiatry Clinic at Wyong Hospital, and 24 referrals were made to the recently established Buridja Clinic.

The Buridja Clinic aims to prevent diabetes-related lower limb complications in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the Central Coast. The clinic focuses on education, prevention, early detection, and convenient referrals. The clinic is led by a local Indigenous PhD candidate, Matthew West, and an Aboriginal Health worker.

The referrals made through the NAIDOC day allow the Buridja clinic to reach community members who otherwise might have been missed through usual referral pathways.

Final year podiatry students work in the clinic to broaden their professional skills, enhance their graduate employability, and prepare them to be culturally safe practitioners. The Podiatry department thank the students who volunteered to attend the NAIDOC show day - Tiarna Bilham-Cox, Bonnie Kriz-McNab, Lauren Montague, Mitchell Starkey, and Chieng Bing Wong - for working exceptionally hard. Thank you also to UON supervising staff member, John Niemotko, and all 186 community members for taking their shoes off on a chilly winter day at Gosford.

If you have any questions about UON participation in NAIDOC health screening, please contact Fiona at

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