Exposure to the unmet needs of children and adults with untreated cleft lip and palate and burn contractures resulted in the formation of the Overseas Specialist Surgical Association of Australia (OSSAA) in Adelaide in 2002.

This charitable group, in partnership with Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Global Health, has continued to provide reconstructive surgical services where they are unavailable or unaffordable in near neighbouring countries.

With more than 45 missions to East Timor, the Overseas Specialist Surgical Association of Australia (OSSAA) team have completed more than 1,000 cleft repairs, with a similar number of cases having been performed in Flores and West Timor, Indonesia.

Many severe burn contractures have also been corrected in these locations. Where patients are unable to be treated at our counterpart hospitals, every effort has been made to refer them to larger centres in Indonesia, whilst a small number have been brought to Australia for more sophisticated surgery.

Support for this has come from Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC), Children’s First Foundation, individual service clubs and public and private hospitals in Australia.