Three Indigenous women were among 232 students to graduate at a ceremony held today in The University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall.
Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists by more than six per cent. Indigenous Allied Health Australia data shows there are currently 48 Indigenous dentists practising around Australia.
Dr Rind, a 29-year-old Yamatji woman originally from Mt Magnet but raised in Perth, began her studies at UWA in the Aboriginal Orientation course in 2008 and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science in 2013. She went on to work in health and study oral health before enrolling in Dental Medicine.
“I’m planning to work in the North West of WA as part of the rural and remote program,” Dr Rind said.
Originally from Northampton, Dr Elder (29) is a Yindjbardni/Yamatji woman who obtained a Bachelor of Nursing from ECU in 2011 and worked as a registered nurse before commencing dentistry at UWA.
“I’m going to work for the State Government’s Dental Health Service as part of the rural and remote program in Kununurra,” she said.
Dr Bence (30) also worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in Melbourne before moving to Perth to study dentistry at UWA. She’s working for Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Service in Perth as well as in private practice.
Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education Professor Jill Milroy said it was wonderful to see three Indigenous women graduate from a highly demanding course.
“They are such great role models for Indigenous people and will be working to improve oral health, particularly in regional and remote areas of our state,” Professor Milroy said.