by Dr. David Goldsmith

This is a Rotary Club of Ballarat West Project. David Goldsmith is the team leader and joint project manager with David Dippie (RC Keilor), a member of the DIK West Footscray Management Team, who is coordinating donations, shipping and promotion.  Other Rotary clubs and Districts such as Keilor, Ballarat East, Cranbourne and Koo-We-Rup, the International College of Dentists (ICD), the Rotary Foundation and others are supporting the project.  This is a prestigious project for our club, and Club member involvement is encouraged.

Central to this project’s success is utilising the management, accountability and resources of RAWCS and DIK.  Such a large undertaking as this simply could not happen in Rotary without this support.  This Rotary International project is also generating interest within the dental profession.  The International College of Dentists are running a feature in their journal, which goes worldwide, and they have donated $5000 to the project!  In addition, the Australian Dental Association will be running a full page feature in the ADA National Bulletin in February 2022.



Below is a list of our aims and objectives. We are well on the way with most of them.

Project Overview – Plans and Objectives 2021-22

The project will have three major elements:

1. Purchasing and shipping a 40ft container of Library Books, Dental and Medical Equipment and supplies

2. Converting the container into a permanent maintenance facility at the Vaiola Hospital

3. Organising a Volunteer Dental Team for Tonga in 2022

This first stage of the project is going very well and we now have obtained and funded the shipping container, the library fittings, books and furnishings and the dental equipment and supplies we need for the project.  I am pleased to report that after long delays due to the current shortage of shipping containers worldwide. our container has finally arrived at Shed 39, 400 Somerville Road, West Footscray.

The timing of number two and three will be influenced by COVID-19.  When people can visit Tonga is an unknown, but it feels like May 2022 may be possible.  Tonga currently has a three week quarantine period for all arrivals from overseas.

The container will carry goods for the following projects for which we have received requests from Tonga.  We are working from their Wish Lists.  The container will be shipped from the DIK West Footscray Store and a significant amount of the dental equipment has been accumulated.

The container will need some preparation work before we send it and this will involve rustproofing and painting the inside to make it more suitable for its intended purpose as a permanent workshop. Work has already started on this and Haymes Paint have donated the paint to Rotary to do this.  Outside painting and the fitting of windows and doors, aircon, shelving, and benches will be added by our Rotary volunteer team in Tonga in May 2022.

DIK are constructing wooden crates so as to stack the dental chairs vertically in the container.  A date has not been set for final packing at DIK, but expected to be shortly after Christmas.  There are currently delays getting berths on ships to the Pacific Islands.



Library for Queen Salote College

Thanks to the excellent support we are receiving from RC Ballarat East, RCBW supporter Selina Knight and the Ballarat City Library,  we have some excellent donations of bookshelves, chairs, tables, and filing cabinets to completely furnish the new Library.  More than 5000 books have been sorted, and selected for suitability and quality.  More than two cubic metres of quality books are boxed up, labelled and ready to ship in addition to twenty five banks of Library bookshelves and twelve flat screen televisions.  Our contact for the QSC Library is Mrs. Seini Manu, a teacher educator who sits on the Board of QSC as does the Queen of Tonga, Queen Nanasipau'u.


First Aid Clinics for Local Schools 

We will also be assembling three identical First Aid Clinic packages together for three schools. This will include sending hospital beds, linen, and BP monitors.  The three schools have rooms available to house these medical facilities.  West Footscray DIK has the following donations available to establish the First Aid rooms:

• Examination couch, Bedside medical cabinet, bed linen, bed table

• Crutches, Wheelchair, bandages and Band-Aids, sterile Dressings

• thermometer, sphygmomanometer, BP monitor, trolley

• gloves, masks, rubbish bin/bags, table, chair, hand sanitiser,

• disinfectant, disposable wound care packs, eye-wash, etc.  

Dental Clinics

Our primary dental contacts in Tonga are it’s CDO and Nuku’alofa Rotarian Dr. ‘Amanaki Fakakovikaetau and Tonga dental equipment engineer Mr Sioeli Manu (Uho). Both have visited the Rotary Club of Ballarat West as guests in the past.  We may need to purchase some hospital and dental equipment from the Wish Lists which we are not able to get donated. 

Equipment for three new school clinics and also for the Outer Islands of Tonga will be gathered and distributed.  The Royal Melbourne Dental Hospital has donated six dental chairs in models ideally suited to Tongan conditions and with spare parts available, and 3 chairs have been donated from Ballarat Health Services.  They are reliable units, and have been checked and passed by expert dental equipment engineers Peter Copp(PHF) and Cale Ziola.  Both have extensive Tongan dental equipment experience.

Five robust older style autoclaves have been donated and factory validated to Australian standards by Siltex Australia, and they come with spare parts.  These models are specifically requested and hard to find.  They withstand the large voltage fluctuations the small Outer Islands experience, and Uho is experienced in maintaining and repairing them.

Other dental equipment, such as operating carts, X-rays, compressors, suction motors for the new clinics at Tupou, QSC, Apifo’ou Colleges, and elsewhere have been donated by retiring Melbourne dentists Drs. Vic Kiven, Chris Murray and Robert French.  Their surgeries were professionally decommissioned f.o.c. by Peter Copp or Cale Ziola.  The International College of Dentists has donated $5000 towards this work.  A digital OPG radiology machine for the Vaiola Hospital is expected to arrive at DIK next week from Clayray specialist Radiology in Melbourne.

We will be taking a Rotary volunteer dental team to Tonga (which will include some volunteers making return visits), but the date will depend on the COVID-19 situation. At present, Tonga requires arrivals to undergo 21 days in quarantine, so we will need to wait until this requirement is lifted. Tentatively, I am aiming for May 2022.



I am still awaiting shipping schedules and quotes as freight costs to Tonga have significantly escalated recently.  Ballarat West Rotary Club is receiving financial support for the project from DIK, RC Cranbourne, RC Koo-Wee-Rup, D9820, RC Keilor, the International College of Dentists (ICD) and two private donors.  We have currently raised $24,254 so far towards the project from external sources.  No funding has so far been allocated to this project by our club for this Rotary year and we still have some dental items on the Wish Lists to have donated or to purchase.

Thank you to all our supporters on behalf of all of the people in Tonga who will benefit from your support.  Any items on the Wish Lists from Tonga below that you can help with are appreciated:

• Equipment and supplies for a new Dental Clinic at Queen Salote College

• Equipment and supplies for a new Dental Clinic at Apifo’ou College

• Equipment and supplies for a new Dental Clinic at Tupou College

• Equipment and supplies for a new Library at Queen Salote College

• Equipment and supplies for First Aid Rooms at Tupou, QSC and Apifo’ou Colleges

• Supply of Nine Dental Chairs and 5 sterilizers and an OPG radiology machine

• Medical Equipment and Supplies for the Vaiola Hospital.

• Converting the Shipping Container into a permanent Medical/Dental Equipment Maintenance Unit for the Vaiola Hospital

• Donations towards helping any local RC Nuku’alofa projects


Ballarat West Rotarians and other interested supporters are welcomed and encouraged to join in this project for Tonga. 

If you are interested in supporting this project, please contact our team Leader Dr. David Goldsmith.

or David Dippie