Community participation: mutually beneficial

Over the past three weeks I have had the privilege of attending three community events about oral health services for refugee communities.

The stories I heard from the community members at these events about the oral health practices in their own cultures were amazing and insightful. I had many realisations about the Western medical model and how it can both expand and limit my thinking about the determinants of health and the wide range of ways to care for our bodies.

It was a true joy to hear how people looked after their mouths and teeth in their countries of origin, which was not necessarily with the tooth brush and tooth paste we see as completely ‘normal’ here in Australia.

The high points of these events, for me, was hearing the stories of how oral health practices were passed down the generations by elders to their children and grandchildren.

Increasingly, I recognise the humility in seeing health promotion projects as an opportunity to genuinely learn from each other across cultures, rather than imparting information from an ‘experts’ model.

I love this part of my job.

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