Opal Dental, Toongabbie, is a great friend of SSI that provides significant care to people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum.
Clinic manager Sinna Sathiakumar, or Sathia as he prefers, and his wife and principal dentist Dr Chelvi Sathiakumar, visited SSI offices in the lead up to Christmas to “put faces to the names” of SSI staff they had been in close contact with.
Bringing gifts and big smiles, Sathia and Chelvi enjoyed meeting SSI case managers and CEO Violet Roumeliotis.
“Opal Dental staff understand the dental needs of SSI clients and have very good awareness of the experiences and cultural backgrounds of refugees and asylum seekers,” Ms Roumeliotis said.
“Sathia and Chelvi run a private practice but still manage to respond to urgent requests from SSI clients as soon as they are able to and the bilingual staff is very reassuring and helpful.
“They provide many services at significantly discounted rates for SSI clients who live with limited finances. Everyone at SSI, and our clients, are very grateful for their support.”
Sathia said the dental practice had had a relationship with SSI and the people it supports since 2010. He said many people from refugee backgrounds, who were seeking asylum, or had migrated from developing nations, lived in the Toongabbie area and his wife and he felt an obligation to help them.
“We are in Toongabbie and every day we see people who are from refugee backgrounds and are asking for help,” Sathia said. “They’re not all SSI clients. They need help and they just walk in. We found staff who speaks the languages of the people in this community; some of them have been refugees and so we are working to understand the nature of the issues here and are trying to help.
Sathia said that in many cases refugees and asylum seekers had come from places where dental health was a low priority, so painful symptoms could develop.
“We also provide education on dental health, teaching the children to brush their teeth every day and warning about soft drinks,” Sathia said. “It gives great satisfaction. It’s a very positive thing.”