NFPs Applaud National Dental Package
29 August 2012 at 11:50 am
The Federal Government 's landmark dental package worth $4 billion dollars has been applauded by the Not for Profit sector.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says the package is on top of the $515 million announced in the 2012-13 Budget, which included a blitz on public dental waiting lists, additional dental training and support for people in rural and remote areas.
“The package that will provide more than three million children and millions of adults on low incomes or in rural areas access to government subsidised dental care,” she said.
“We know that one in five of Australia’s lowest-income people haven’t been to a dentist in over five years, if ever.
“And we know that low-income households have more than double the number of family members with untreated tooth decay compared with high-income households. It’s just not good enough.”
Under the scheme, children aged two to 17 in the Family Tax Benefit Part A group will be entitled to $1,000 per child over a two-year period from 2014.
ACOSS has applauded the announcement by the Federal Government and welcomed what it describes as a dual focus on children and on those adults most disadvantaged in access to appropriate dental care.
“Today's announcement secures adequate dental care for two-thirds of the children in Australia, many of whom would go without regular dental care otherwise,” ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
"By ensuring affordable appropriate and timely dental care for people on the aged or disability pension and all those with a health care card, this reform establishes the policies and funding mechanisms to reduce a major area of health inequality in Australia," Dr Goldie said.
“Many people on low incomes have been forced to rely on an over-stretched and under-resourced public dental system and have suffered terrible pain and deteriorating oral health as a result. This agreement will ensure that not only are public dental waiting lists addressed, but people on low incomes are able to access the routine and preventive treatment that everyone needs to ensure healthy mouths and lives.”
Deputy CEO Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, who was a member of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health stated, “ACOSS has long-championed the importance of a national approach to dental care that recognises how critical good oral health is, not just for general health but for social and economic participation.
“We hear often from people too embarrassed to go to job interviews or engage with their communities because of their teeth. That's why we have been calling for many years for access to a basic course of treatment every two years as a minimum standard of oral health for everyone in Australia. This reform will be foundational in improving the oral health of the population through a significant entitlement to children, without leaving behind those adults who for too long have missed out on adequate dental care.
“But no amount of federal funding can address Australia's gaping oral health gaps without state and territory governments maintaining, and in some cases improving their investment.
“We call on all governments to work together to ensure Australia at last can build a national oral health system,” Dr Boyd-Caine concluded.
UnitingCare Australia has also welcomed the announcement with National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds saying it will address a big gap in Australia’s social service system.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates we can overcome social and economic disadvantage if Governments work across the parliament and across jurisdictions,” Hatfield Dodds said.
“Dental health is central to a decent life. All Australians should rightly expect to be free of pain and discomfort."
According to research from The Brotherhood of St Laurence CEO Tony Nicholson, one million work days and 600,000 school days are lost annually because of poor dental health at a cost to the economy of $660 million in lost productivity.