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Enhanced support for patients at Sydney Dental Hospital

Legal assistance provided to vulnerable patients under Health Justice Partnership.

Two women stand holding brochures in a dentist's office 
SydneyConnect Image: Solicitor Rashini Fernando and social worker Cecilia Correy at Sydney Dental Hospital

Patients at Sydney Dental Hospital can access support for a range of legal and social issues they may be facing, thanks to a partnership with the Redfern Legal Centre. 

Under the Health Justice Partnership, a solicitor from the Centre has been embedded at the hospital and works closely with its social worker and other health care professionals to provide on-site legal assistance to vulnerable patients. 

The Partnership aims to provide a holistic approach to care for patients.  

Solicitor Rashini Fernando, who joined the Partnership in 2022, and social worker Cecilia Correy work together to have a positive impact on patients’ lives, not just their health. 

“Social issues and health issues are often linked. The dentist will say ‘This patient was late to their appointment because they’ve been feeling depressed.’ Then, we’ll see them and all of these other issues become clear,” Cecilia said. 

Patients are provided with free, confidential legal advice on issues ranging from money problems, housing issues, domestic violence, child protection matters and access to mental health care. 

“We bring our expertise together and they can get assistance with all aspects of their lives, not just one. Hopefully, it leads to a better outcome for their health, for their mental wellbeing and for their legal situation,” Rashini said. 

Established in 2019, Rashini and Cecilia are working to raise awareness and educate the hospital’s multidisciplinary staff about the Partnership and how best to refer patients to them.  

“There has been solid demand for the partnership’s services, with referrals increasing consistently over the last few months. The most immediate benefit I see with clients that come through the Partnership is how much awareness and understanding they gain about their rights,” Rashini said 

And the hospital’s staff are gratified when they learn how the Partnership has been able to help patients.  

“To be able to say to a dentist, you referred that person because they were subjected to domestic violence and since that, they have been assisted in finding a safe place to stay and they’re getting counselling; it’s really rewarding for all of the staff,” said Cecilia. 

Patients can access the Health Justice Partnership at Sydney Dental Hospital by asking a staff member or by contacting Rashini directly on 0413 298 107 or rashini@rlc.org.au. Patients are also welcome to drop in at the site on Thursdays and Fridays. 

Patients wishing to speak with a social worker can ask a staff member or can call the hospital on 02 9293 3333 to be referred to Cecilia.