Who are we ?
The Australian Dental Prosthetists Association limited is a national body whose responsibility it is to represent the Dental Prosthetists of Australia. The Association has a Code of Conduct which all members are committed to, ensuring professional service to the Australian community.
Registered Dental Prosthetists are health care providers and as such any patient can claim appropriate benefits from all reputable health funds and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
What is a Dental Prosthetist ?
A Dental Prosthetist is an oral care professional who has completed extensive training to become firstly a dental technician, who works by referral from a Dentist, and finally a Dental Prosthetist who is registered to consult patients directly. A Dental Prosthetist is registered to undertake the manufacture of complete dentures, partial dentures and mouthguards.
When you put yourself in the care of a Dental Prosthetist you can be secure in the knowledge that you are being looked after by a health professional with the most comprehensive knowledge of advanced techniques, new materials and the latest world trends in the field of denture prosthetics.
Under the new national laws Dental Prosthetists are able to practice in every State/ Territory in Australia.
Education and Training
A Dental Prosthetist must firstly qualify as a dental technician and historically this was always achieved through training at a local TAFE in association with an apprenticeship usually within a dental laboratory. Nowadays there area number of avenues for training.
To seek specific Information for each State please follow the links to the individual state branches located on the HOME page and contact your state office.
The History of the First Dental Prosthetists Legislation, Tasmania 1957
The following is an abridged version of an address given by Stephen Boxhall at a dinner in Hobart on the 13th October 2007 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Tasmanian Legislation that enabled dental technicians to work directly with the public.
It was in 1957 that the Tasmanian Parliament passed legislation and became the first jurisdiction anywhere in the world to enable dental technicians, or ‘dental mechanics’ as they were called then, to work directly with the public.
At the beginning of the 1900s legislation started to come into place around Australia to govern the practice of dentistry. In Tasmania this occurred with the passing of the Dentists Act of 1919, which required dentists to have practised for a specified qualifying period. Those dentists who had been practising for less than the qualifying period were suddenly ineligible to practise as dentists. So, unless they sat examinations or went to university to get a qualification they were out of a job. Some were short of the qualifying time by a matter of months. They may have had established practices with a loyal patient base in the towns and suburbs in which they worked. Now they had no practice and no source of income. This was a cause of great bitterness and the start of illegal dentistry.
Some ignored the legislation and continued to practise. Some however were employed by dentists to do their technical or ‘mechanical’ work as it was termed then, becoming labeled ‘dental mechanics’. As time went by, dentists also employed apprentices to learn the skills of making dentures from themselves and the mechanics that they employed. (These were our forefathers)
The mechanics of Tasmania post-war worked at the Launceston General or the Royal Hobart Hospital; a few were employed by dentists, while others were self-employed as laboratory owners. They were a fragmented assortment of individuals…that is, until late 1947, when two dental mechanics based in Launceston, William Ellis and Max Crawford decided to approach the secretary of one of the national unions based there, George Chidwick, for advice on how to improve wages and conditions for dental mechanics.
Chidwick listened to their claims and advised them to call a meeting of all the mechanics they could get hold of. This first meeting at the City Hotel in Launceston was attended by Max Crawford, William Ellis, Peter Suitor, Brian Carswell, Stan Fuller, Gil Rumney, Dutton Wood and John Hollingsworth.
Over the following months meetings were arranged right around state and in 1948 the Tasmanian Dental Mechanics Association was formed. Its inaugural President, Dutton Wood, was a veteran of World War 1. In October 1949 Reginald Johnston, who had recently opened a dental laboratory in Hobart, also joined the Association. Reg was to play a major role in the Association in the years to come and became a state Life Member.
It took a year or so to really put the machinery in place to start to tackle the Association’s two main aims which were:
- the establishment of an Award to cover those employed in the industry, and
- the eradication of the uncertainty, fear and frustration of those who’d been on the wrong side of the law by changing the law of Tasmania to give dental mechanics chairside status, to conduct business directly with the public.
This was the start of a 10-year battle.
With the success with the award in early 1951 and the stated aim of achieving chairside status, more mechanics started to join the Association.
0n the 1st of July 1951 a young mechanic from Smithton, Rex Edwards became a member of the Association. No one could have foreseen the role that this man was to play in the evolution of our profession, not just in Tasmania but for the whole of the country. He was softly spoken, articulate and intelligent… a strategist, respected by all, with a dedication to the profession that he maintained up till his death in 1994 aged 75. He became Federal President and also played a major role in Victoria and NSW gaining their legislation. He was a state Life Member and was to be awarded the first Federal Life Membership.
The battle to amend the Dentists Act to give dental mechanics chairside status now really started to gain momentum.
In 1953 the Association formalised its association with the union movement and became a member of the Launceston Trades Hall.
In March 1953 the Trades and Labour Council passed a motion supporting the introduction of legislation and, as a result of this, the Premier Mr Cosgrove reiterated his support for legislation to be introduced. But it was controversial and politically uncertain.
After being returned in the 1955 elections, the Cosgrove government did introduce a bill which got through the lower house, but was defeated by one vote in the Legislative Council. In his closing speech the Leader of the Government in the Council stated, “the result of this vote must not be taken as a defeat for dental mechanics or a victory for dentists, both parties must go away and attempt to reach agreement on this question”. The mechanics, although disappointed, felt they had gained a tremendous amount of ground.
A year later the matter was again on the ALP state conference agenda and as a result the government reintroduced the legislation.
It successfully passed the Lower House, but when the bill was again presented to the Legislative Council, Mr Orchard, who had in 1955 been against the Mechanics, moved for another Select Committee. The Committee interviewed some 43 witnesses over the course of 10 months. Though we were not very confident about the outcome of this enquiry as 3 of the Committee had voted against it 2 years earlier.
So, when in August 1957 Mr Orchard presented his report to the Council it was a tremendous surprise to learn that the Committee recommended that dental mechanics should be registered and given the right to deal directly with the public.
In September 1957, Mr Orchard, the member who had so bitterly opposed mechanics in 1955, introduced a bill to implement the recommendations of the Select Committee. On the 3rd of October, the bill was passed by the Legislative Council.
It went back to the lower house and was passed on the 6th of December, 1957. The battle had been won.
The first examination was held in June 1958 and the successful candidates were registered on 1st of July, that year.
A quote Rex Edwards from the address that he gave to the National Conference in Queensland in 1993 to celebrate the passing of their legislation.He says:
On reaching my age one tends to reflect on what has occurred in relationship to the issue in which one has been involved and you ask the question; "What have I achieved?" "Has it all been worthwhile?"
If during this passage through life one plays a part in decision making which lifts from the shoulders of people a tremendous feeling of frustration; gives to them status and security, and perhaps most important of all a feeling of satisfaction in their work, then I believe something worthwhile has been accomplished. At this moment I like to feel that I have made a contribution which has assisted in establishing this situation.
There is certainly no doubt about the answer to the question he poses… not just in Rex’s case but in that of all of our predecessors who had the vision, who fought the fight, who made the sacrifices to enable us to be the dental health professionals we are today.
We thank you.
Last Updated (Sunday, 05 August 2012 06:49)