Reopen the Auburn Dental Health Clinic
It was just another slap in the face for the residents of the western Sydney suburb of Auburn when the Auburn Dental Health Clinic was closed. A leaflet published by the Auburn branch of the Communist Party says that the closure of the clinic was a sly and sneaky move. The State Labor Government closed the clinic in the lead-up to the 2002 Christmas school holidays in the knowledge that residents would not notice the closure until the New Year. It was closed without consultation. Staff were quickly transferred to the Westmead Hospital and told the reason for the closure was poor facilities and a lack of security for staff. Even the local Labor Member of Parliament Barbara Perry claimed that she knew nothing about it until told by residents. An important service The health clinic provided dental check ups for all primary school students in the Auburn Council area and, if necessary, gave follow-up dental treatment. It provided a dental health education program for children by visiting local primary schools, childcare centres and mothers' groups. It also organised dental health awareness at community activities such as the Auburn Festival. Auburn has a large percentage of low-income, migrant and refugee families and without this important service many young children will never see the dentist and will develop dental problems at an early age. But prevention is better than cure and a small investment in children's dental health is cheaper than treating people for related health problems when they are older. Poor excuses The Western Area Health Service that is responsible for the closure keeps changing their story as to why the clinic was closed. It was first claimed poor equipment and no staff security was the reason. Then that there are not enough therapists for the clinic, but the therapists were transferred to Westmead Hospital. Auburn residents now have to make an appointment at the Westmead Dental Clinic where there is waiting list of six-weeks or more and the extra expense of travel and time off work. Another alternative is to pay for private health care for children that can be very expensive. Both options disadvantage the many struggling low-income families in Auburn. A committee of local residents has been formed to take up the issue and have collected hundreds of signatures to a petition calling for the reopening of the clinic. A delegation has been sent to the Mayor to ask Auburn Council for its support. A group of local residents will attend the next meeting of Council and ask for time to address Council on the matter. Local residents are being encouraged to attend this meeting which is on September 17. The Auburn Branch of the Communist Party is calling for the clinic to be reopened in new premises within the Auburn Hospital and with new and modern equipment in a safe environment for both the patients and the staff. Auburn Branch of the CPA can be contacted on email@example.com or by calling Suna on 9723 0223 or Edward 0414 761 618.