If Indigenous Griffith University alumni David and Michael Baker are indicative of a new generation of Australian dentists, things are looking up, especially for people who have long missed out on quality oral health services.
The brothers were both nationally recognised for their remarkable impact on First Peoples’ health long before they graduated from Griffith University’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health.
David Baker, as Hope4Health coordinator at Griffith, was instrumental in establishing a dental clinic in Cherbourg, providing a vital service to the mostly Indigenous community. Prior to the Hope4Health initiative, the nearest dental surgery was more than an hour away and had a two-year waiting list.
While still studying, David won the Rural Health Workforce and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) 2012 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Indigenous Communities.
When David graduated, his brother Michael happily took up the baton, garnering community and corporate support for the Cherbourg program and helping to advance the clinic from emergency service to preventative dentistry.
Michael was recognised for his efforts by being selected as a Queensland finalist in the 2016 Young Australian of the Year Awards as well as taking out the Colgate Award for Commitment and Dedication to Rural, Remote and Indigenous Oral Health in 2015.
The Baker brothers recently celebrated one year in successful private practice at Toowoomba, where their generosity continues. Twice a year they hold pro-bono days where they provide free dental services for local charities and both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, their altruism largely influenced by family, a sense of community and their years at Griffith University, Michael says.
“I was a full-time student at Griffith for eight years, obtaining my Bachelor of Business before starting dentistry,” he adds.
‘Two brothers working together in an area where we can make a real difference to the community was the plan from the start and we both love our work.”