Improved Dental Requires Bipartisan Commitment

ACOSS has welcomed the inclusion of dental in the agreement between the Greens and Labor and has urged bipartisan support for a serious commitment to improving dental care in Australia.

“Dental care remains a critical gap in Australia’s universal health system” said CEO Cassandra Goldie. “Up to 7 million Australians go without dental care because they cannot afford it and average waiting times for public dental care are longer than 2 years in many parts of the country.

“Affordability and lack of access to services are even more acute in regional and remote parts of Australia. Universal access to oral healthcare is vital so that all Australians can have dental care when they need it.”

The commitment to consider additional funding for dental in the next Federal Budget is an important start. Recent Commonwealth Budgets have provided next to no new funding to dental care and almost 80% of Commonwealth dental funding goes to schemes that are not means tested.

Dental has the highest ratio of non-government to government funding of any health service in Australia. Around 15% of funding for dental services is provided by government presently, with individuals providing 65% of dental funding and rebates and private health insurance providing the rest.

Dr Goldie stated: “It is vital that parties and independents on all sides commit to improving accessibility so that all Australians have equitable and timely access to oral health care.”

Media Contact: Tessa Boyd-Caine, ACOSS – 0419 626 155

The Australian Council of Social Service is the peak body of the community services and welfare sector and the national voice for the needs of people affected by poverty and inequality. ACOSS renewed the National Oral Health Alliance during the recent Federal election to re-assert oral health as a priority for health reform in Australia. National community, dental and health organisations formed the Alliance to seek solutions to the poor access to services and oral health outcomes experienced by many Australians.

For more information on the National Oral Health Alliance, go to http://www.oralhealth.asn.au/

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