Water flowing into remote schools and parks

21 February 2017

A scheme aimed at improving oral health and reducing obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has installed cold fresh water in Boggabilla’s school – and now also its town park. 

Photo of two women with the water fountain at Boggabilla.

Yvonne Dimitropoulos, Master of Philosophy student in the University's Faculty of Dentistry, and Norma Binge, Clinic Coordinator for the Poche oral health program, with the new water fountain in Boggabilla Town Park.

Funded by the University of Sydney's Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Rotary and the New South Wales Government, the Dalang Project was piloted in 2016.

A dedicated oral health aide, teeth brushing program and filtered chilled water fountains were installed in Boggabilla Central School, Mungindi Central School and Toomelah Public School in rural NSW, before rolling out to schools in six more communities across the state.

Photo of a woman drinking from a water fountain.

Yvonne Dimitropoulos drinking from the new fountain.

Now the first water fountain for general use has been installed in Boggabilla Town Park, with local parks in the other communities to follow.

“We’re delighted we’ve reached this stage of our program, allowing easy access to tasty cold water for the whole community,” Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Kylie Gwynne said.

“Water quality is big problem in many remote towns, and people often turn to soft drinks as the cheaper option.

“This, of course, has a serious impact on rates of dental disease as well as other associated chronic health problems.

Along with the fountain, we’re also providing refillable water bottles. Together with our work in schools, this practical, effective and holistic approach to dealing with a complex issue is resulting in real benefits to communities.
Kylie Gwynne, Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney

At the launch of the Poche Centre’s new five year strategy at NSW Parliament Health last year, the former Health Minister Jillian Skinner praised the Dalang Project and the Poche Centre’s ambitious goals.

“Projects like this help deal with the scourge of sugar-rich drinks and the associated complications for overall health and chronic disease. Its success demonstrates that with innovation we can deliver excellent health care services across the state,” she said.

Related articles