Get involved with Rescue Days

ADA NSW is now supporting the coordination of National Dental Foundation Rescue Days in NSW.

First NSW Rescue Day for 2016 is a resounding success

Three dentists, one hygienist and the support team from Leura Dental volunteered to host the first 2016 Rescue Day in NSW. They treated 25 patients from ONE80TC, a drug and alcohol rehab program for men aged 18-35. The team really enjoyed the day and appreciated the gratitude of, and thanks from, their patients. Read more...

What are Rescue Days?

Beginning in 2005, Dr David Digges put aside one day a year to treat people considered most in need of dental treatment in his practice in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill. These people were on public system waiting lists, needed more attention than could be provided through the public system, or needed assistance in accessing a dental practice.

Dr Digges called these days ‘Rescue Days’. 

Dr Digges was contacted by other dentists who wanted to help and, with Mervin Saultry, managing director of Dental Innovations, formed the National Dental Foundation (NDF) in 2006. 

Through the success of various fundraising initiatives, the NDF became a national organisation, providing Rescue Days throughout Australia. Dr Digges is still the NDF’s Chairperson.

The Centre for Oral Health Strategies, NSW Health, agreed in 2015 to fund a NSW coordinator for two years who is based in ADA NSW and will organise NSW Rescue Days on behalf of members.

How Rescue Days work

A participating practice agrees to set aside a certain amount of time, such as one day a year or a few hours every three or four months, to treat patients referred from registered charities. Smaller charities that do not receive much assistance from other agencies are targeted. 


  • are referred by a charity caseworker and make a booked appointment
  • are not allowed to contact the practices directly, so they do not see them subsequently as drop-in centres
  • are either transported to the appointment by the caseworker or are told to arrive promptly and respect the volunteering dentist’s time.

A great deal of mutual respect has been built up between caseworkers, practices and Dr Digges over the years.

Practices may request patients from specific charities, such as those helping young people or disadvantaged women.


  • donate their time and expertise; supplies may be provided by the NDF
  • find Rescue Days rewarding as by improving patients’ oral health they are helping them in pain relief, and often to regain self-esteem
  • consider Rescue Days a good opportunity for sharpening their skill set, as some patients have complex issues that need to be dealt with. 

Useful Links:

Volunteer your practice
Volunteer Dentist

NSW State Coordinator
P:  0499 191 901