2012 winners

Dr Debroah Cole, DHSV CEO, Niki Hantzis, Dr Warren Shnider and Assoc. Prof. Julie Satur and Mick Ellis, Chair
Winners: (pictured left to right) Dr Deborah Cole, DHSV CEO; Niki Hantzis; Dr Warren Shnider;
Assoc. Prof. Julie Satur and Mick Ellis, DHSV Board Chair

Highly commended: Dr Soon Voon and Dr Felicia Valianatos
Highly commended: (pictured left to right) Dr Deborah Cole, DHSV CEO; Dr Soon Voon; 
Mr Mick Ellis, DHSV Board Chair and Dr Felicia Valianatos

Extraordinary dental professionals were honoured with Public Oral Healthcare Awards on 29 November 2012 for their care and commitment to public dental services.

The awards, presented annually by Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV), are given to dental professionals who go above and beyond in providing dental care to disadvantaged Victorians.

The winners received funding of $5,000 for their professional development as well as a trophy designed by Philip Stokes Gallery.

In addition to the winners, three highly commended awards were also presented.

Profiles of winners (as of November 2012)


Niki Hantzis

Dental Program Manager, Inner East Community Health Service

Niki has provided dental services to children and adolescents via the School Dental Service and Inner East Community Health Service for over 30 years.

As a highly skilled dental therapist, Niki has lead, mentored and encouraged others in the profession. She has a knack for dealing with children and her fun and compassionate approach, coupled with her clinical acumen and skill, means that she has been able to successfully treat thousands of Victorian children.

During the late 90s Niki spent 18 months volunteering her services to treat Kosovar and East Timorese refugees. Some of the Kosovar refugees had overwhelming dental needs having endured dental based torture.

Once again, Niki’s ability to put patients at ease meant that she was able to cross cultural, language and fear barriers to successfully treat these fragile and vulnerable people.

After working long hours in the refugee clinic, she somehow found the energy to play ball with the children afterwards. We are incredibly privileged to have benefitted from Niki’s wisdom and dedication to public dental care over the past 30 years.

Associate Professor Julie Satur

Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy, Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Julie Satur graduated as a dental therapist in 1977 and spent the early part of her career working for the Victorian School Dental Service.

She moved onto a project manager role in 1992 and began designing, implementing and evaluating oral health promotion for preschool children.

Julie has been involved in curriculum development and teaching in dental therapy and dental hygiene for the Bachelor of Oral Health since 1993, ensuring high quality graduates enter the dental workforce.

Julie is  passionate about increasing people’s access to public dental care. She is a strong advocate for increased recognition of the skills of oral health therapists and dental therapists and is a fantastic role model for students and graduates alike.

Julie was a founding member of the Victorian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association in 1977 and has held the positions of President, Policy Advisor and currently Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Dental and Oral Health Therapy.

Julie is an advisor to the Oral Health Promotion Clearing House and an active advocate for public oral health at state and national levels.

She is an asset to the dental profession and a shining example of the passion, tenacity and dedication that exists among our esteemed dental professionals and educators.

Dr Warren Shnider

Special Needs Dentist, The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne

Warren has worked in special needs dentistry in London and Melbourne in both the public and private sector.

His clinical interests include gerodontics, domiciliary dentistry, general anaesthesia and developmental disability.

Working in the DHSV Domiciliary Van, Warren handles some of the hospital’s most complex and challenging cases treating special needs patients, aged care residents and prison inmates.

He has a passion for making a difference and prioritises patient safety, satisfaction and optimal clinical outcomes.

He treats all patients with compassion and care, listening to them intently, involving them in treatment plans and promoting positive self esteem.

As Clinical Academic Lead in Special Needs Dentistry at LaTrobe University’s School of Rural Health, Warren is actively improving the flow of new students entering the industry.

He was the prime initiator in the development of a special needs speciality in the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons curriculum and plays an active role in improving the oral health of the Victorian community through his role as Councillor of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch.

Through his various roles and memberships, Warren works closely with public health professionals to increase clinical knowledge and advance the dental profession. He seeks to ensure that the invisible community – those in aged care, prisons and those living with disability – have a voice and are able to receive high quality and compassionate dental care.  

Highly commended

Susan McKinlay

Dental Program Manager, Peninsula Health

Susan graduated as a dental therapist in 1976 and has dedicated her career to the public dental sector.

She has mentored many young therapists to her high standard of clinical work and has an exceptional ability in building relationships with children.

Her vision for prevention and early intervention has seen her lead many innovative projects at Peninsula Health.

These projects include taking dental services into aged care facilities, working with refugees and asylum seekers through Anglicare and working with local high school children to find out more about the barriers adolescents face when trying to access dental care.  

Dr Felicia Valianatos

Manager Oral Health Services, MonashLink Community Health Service

Felicia has managed the oral health program at MonashLink for the past 10 years.

In that time she has seen it grow from a small 2 chair clinic to an integrated 10 chair clinic. She developed the Keeping Kids Smiling program as well as the innovative My Health Lounge project which won the Victorian Hospitals Association’s Population Health Award in 2010.

Felicia was offered an honorary Clinical Lecturer appointment with the University of Melbourne in recognition of the support she provides to students and has accepted an offer of Fellowship in the International College of Dentists.  

Dr Soon Voon

Dentist, Integrated Special Needs Van, The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne

One word that is often used to describe Dr Voon is compassionate. So it is no surprise that he received not one but two nominations for this year’s award.

Dr Voon has been treating children since 1976 and is renowned for his patience and compassion when treating children living with physical and intellectual disability. Over his career, he has shared his skills and knowledge with countless colleagues and students.

Age is no barrier for Dr Voon.

Despite his 80th birthday being not too far away, Dr Voon still works three days per week.

He is a passionate and patient mentor to dental students, and his commitment to the public dental sector is, in many ways, unparalleled.

Last updated: 2014-11-28