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Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) Australia began with a group of passionate and energetic young volunteers. Dentists by trade, they wondered if there were room for them to contribute in a country with a well-established welfare system. Australia does not have a comprehensive medical insurance scheme such as the one found in Taiwan and Medicare does not cover dental treatments. Public dental services lack resources and only cater to those eligible for public welfare benefits. Even then, most services are aimed resolving toothaches and pain management, as opposed to comprehensive dental care. After consultation with various stakeholders, several groups needing medical care were identified: asylum seekers who have recently arrived in Australia and who do not possess official refugee status, residents of towns in remote areas that lack essential medical services and people experiencing homelessness.


In 2002, Tzu Chi officially began its Medical Missions in rural Queensland. From 2004, in partnership with Queensland Health, Multicultural Australia, Access and various refugee organizations, the first refugee dental fair was held. Tzu Chi volunteers, community volunteers and interpreters worked together to care for refugees who fled from war and suffering and looked after both their oral health and mental well-being. In 2019, with the inclusion of Toowoomba Refugee Dental Fair, Tzu Chi has been able to spread its love to other regions.

Tara is a town located 300 kilometres west of Brisbane and since 2007, its residents have looked forward to the annual Tara Medical and Dental Fair. Tzu Chi volunteers partner with local volunteers to magically transform the local community hall into over 12 temporary treatment rooms. Medical and allied health services include dental, medical, traditional Chinese medicine, physiotherapy, podiatry and optometry. The most challenging yet valuable service offered is the fabrication of dentures, allowing residents who lacked teeth to have their smiles restored after the short three-day visit. Tzu-Chi’s contributions over the years have not only improved the health of its residents; it has also inspired and touched the hearts of many local residents.

2011 marked the beginning of a long-term partnership between Tzu Chi Foundation and the Christianity-based organization Micah Projects who jointly opened the Inclusive Health Clinic in 2017 where the dental services are provided by Tzu Chi. The clinic operates from Monday to Friday and its main beneficiaries are the underprivileged clients cared by the Micah Projects, as well as asylum-seekers supported by Tzu Chi.

Over the years, TIMA Brisbane has developed a deep and positive relationship with other healthcare providers in Brisbane. With long-standing partnerships with The University of Queensland and Griffith University, many of their dental students end up joining the Tzu Chi medical team.