Students sleep out to raise awareness of homeless dental care

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Dental and oral health students from the University of Adelaide will be sleeping rough this Saturday 14 May to help raise money to support free dental health care for Adelaide's homeless.

The annual Sleep Out event is an opportunity for students to give back to the community and to raise awareness of the importance of helping homeless people with their dental health and hygiene.

To be held at the Salvation Army on Pirie Street, Adelaide, the Sleep Out event is expected to involve more than 160 students, staff, members of local business and the community.

Student organiser Laura Smith, now in her final year of a Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Adelaide, says the event has become an important part of the student calendar.

"This is one night when students and staff come together with the Adelaide community in an effort to show our support of the marginalised people in our society," Ms Smith says.

"Our aim is to raise funds for the Community Outreach Dental Program at Common Ground in Light Square, which provides much-needed dental care for people who can otherwise be lost to the health system.

"This year, we’re fundraising for an expansion of the service, with the intention to purchase more mobile equipment, and work toward providing care for a wider group of vulnerable people."

Margie Steffens, Director of Community Outreach in the University's School of Dentistry, says: "Many patients treated at Common Ground are homeless or living 'rough', and our work is vital for their overall health, wellbeing and sense of dignity.

"To do this, we rely on volunteer dentists and students, and on donations, because dental equipment and materials can be expensive.

"Being able to expand the program – such as through the purchase of a mobile dental cart – will mean our services can go to more people who need them, where they need them."

The Sleep Out event will coincide with the Salvation Army dinner service and will involve musical performances and a BBQ.

"We will also be giving out dental supplies and oral care advice," Ms Smith says.

"Being able to socialise with those at the centre is a great chance for students to hear people's stories and experiences. This is one part of our learning that we could never get from a classroom or lecture theatre."

To donate to the Community Outreach Dental Program, visit the Adelaide University Dental Students' Society website:


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