During a visit in 2003 to Vietnam, Dr David Booth, an internationally recognized Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Oral Pathologist from Western Australia, became aware that basic dental and medical services were not available to a vast majority of Vietnamese people, particularly children. He noted there were an extraordinary number of orphanages, many in rural areas, which were in no position to secure any of these services and actually relied on donations to provide food for the children in their care.
Dr Booth began to organize a small group of volunteer doctors, dentists, oral health therapists and other support staff that began travelling as a team from Perth, Western Australia to Ho Chi Minh City for a trip/project of 8 days duration. They would pay all their own travel, accommodation, meals and personal costs as well as covering the costs of local (Vietnamese) volunteers who would act as interpreters and helpers. Earliest visits were to orphanages in or nearby Ho-Chi Minh City and this soon extended to South Vietnam followed by Central Vietnam. The visits extended to reach as many underprivileged children as possible – not only orphans, but special needs, very poor children and their carers.
The first trip/project was May 2005 and the next in October 2006. In 2007, 3 trips/projects were undertaken and since 2008 this increased to 4 each year:- April/May; July; September and November.
The Children's Health Aid Team Inc. (CHAT) was formed in 2008 with the appropriate Committee and rules/policies (Constitution), to provide a base for membership to interested persons. Interest about the work of CHAT spread and in 2008, volunteers from outside Western Australia started to join our trips/projects. These volunteers were mostly from other Australian states & territories and sometimes from overseas.
It was resolved to establish a formal legal entity and apply for charitable status, to provide a cost effective means of raising funds to support CHAT trips/projects and purchase much needed equipment. By late 2012, CHAT and its committee were well established and an application to gain formal charity recognition/registration with the Australian Charities and Not-for–profit Commission (ACNC) was successful.