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Mothers, Children and Healthy Connections 

In keeping with their commitment to the local community, the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, together with support from The Department of Home Affairs through the Fostering Integration Grants program, hosted their second ‘Mothers Children and Healthy Connections’ event last week in Liverpool.

Over 80 women from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including Arabic and Vietnamese, learnt about the invaluable services available in South West Sydney including speech therapy, dental services and the NSW Refugee Health Service.

“These events give our multicultural community an opportunity to learn about the many healthcare services available to them in South West Sydney, with a particular focus on mothers and children,” said Darryl Harkness, Chief Executive Officer, Ingham Institute.

Speech pathologist, Sarah Leung, from the SWSLHD’s Primary & Community Health Unit provided detailed information on the signs of speech disorders in the 0-5 age group and encouraged participants to contact the unit if they had any concerns. Sarah also addressed the common misconception, which many NESB parents have, that their child must first learn to speak English.

“We want you to use your home language because it will help your child to learn the words to communicate,” says Sarah. This, she explained, is most important in the development of language skills.

B-Ann Echevarria from the NSW Refugee Health Service provided information about the service and the programs they offer including support groups for refugees with disabilities and the volunteer navigation program in which trained volunteers provide guidance and assistance to clients with navigating the health care and public transport systems.

The last presentation on oral health care surprised participants by dispelling common myths such as “it’s not safe to visit the dentist while pregnant.” In fact, the opposite is true. Associate Professor Ajesh George from the Centre for Oral Health Outcome and Research Translation (COHORT), Western Sydney University, explained that according to research, 75% of pregnant women have gum disease which has a known link to premature labour.

Equally surprising was the prevalence of dental decay in children with 4 in 10 children having some degree of dental decay. Assoc. Prof. George dispelled the commonly held belief that dental decay in baby teeth is not important.

“If you don’t treat dental disease in children, it can affect their speech, their growth and even their development,” he explained.

With the help of interpreters available during the event, participants were able to ask questions of the presenters who provided in-depth answers.

“The presentations were excellent, the audience was highly engaged and the questions outstanding,” said Harkness.

After the information sessions, the women were treated to a wonderful lunch where they were able to talk to other mothers as well as approach the speakers with further questions. All the while, the children were being entertained in specially set-up play areas in the Ingham foyer.

“The Ingham Institute was delighted to host this event. It was a privilege to work with the many dedicated partners and health care providers to connect and support our local communities,” said Harkness.

*All pictured participants have signed media release forms.

By Linda Music