Honour for local dentist

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

An Albany resident and the former chief executive of the Australian Dental Association has been awarded the Member of the Order of Australia, General Division for his services to the dental profession.

Dr Stuart Gairns has dedicated his career to dentistry after he graduated from UWA in Perth in 1975.

Since then he has had a distinguished career which included seven years as the Australian Dental Association WA branch chief executive officer and several years as branch president and vice-president. He has also had a number of roles with the Australian Dental Association National branch.

As ADA chief the periodontics specialist was one of the driving forces behind ensuring the future of a dental school based in WA.

“There was a time when the University of Western Australia was looking at removing the dental school and West Australians who wanted to become dentists would have to go to South Australia,” he said.

”We fought a pretty good fight to keep the dental school in WA which meant building a new dental school.”

During Dr Gairns’ 30-year career, he said ensuring regional dental services has been the hardest challenge.

“Regional services has always been a difficult thing to supply and of course there is a tendency for people to stay close to the schools they graduated from, so we weren’t seeing that spread into the country,” he said.

“I think that’s been a big challenge trying to get people into the country and get services into the country areas.”

To address this the 64-year-old would visit Albany three days a month from 1986 until 1994 when he required a kidney transplant.

Now retired, Dr Gairns lives in Albany with his wife but is still strongly involved in the industry as Australian Dental Association National branch Dental Cases Panel chairman and Western Australian Dental Foundation vice-chairman.

“Its been very fulfilling and this award is about recognising that contribution, certainly, But that doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it as well,” he said.

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