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29 Aug 2012 | Press Release

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Australia's Dentists welcome targeted dental reform

Government policies and funding

Today's announcements by the Hon Tanya Plibersek, Federal Minister for Health have been welcomed by the Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA).


Closure of the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS) and the Teen Dental Plan with a replacement scheme focusing on Australia's youth and disadvantaged Australian's is a significant initiative leading to a long-term improvement in Australia's oral health. The ADA has long advocated for a targeted dental scheme as outlined in the ADA's Dental Access proposal (www.betterdentalaccess.com.au).

"The re-direction of federal funding to Australia's children and adults on low incomes or in rural areas will prove to be a sound investment. We know that if dental care can be provided to children then their long-term dental health will be significantly improved. Early intervention and preventive treatments are a proven and well-established method to prevent poor dental health in later life," Dr Shane Fryer, President of the ADA stated today.

"Currently about 65% of Australians receive regular dental care. The ADA believes the new program will provide assistance to many Australian families previously unable to access regular care, as a sure way of helping them to avoid a path where their dental health will deteriorate.

Yesterday's Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Social distribution of health risks and health outcomes indicated that inability to access health care can lead to poor health outcomes. It is said that the investment of $2.7 billion in this initiative is estimated to provide 3.4 million Australian children aged 2 to 18 years, in families eligible under Tax Benefit A, with an entitlement to $1000 for dental care over two years. Additional funding to state and territories for the public dental system will allow for improved provision of services.

"The focus of this federal funding upon this sector of the community will not only result in improved dental health for our young people but may also result in a long-term saving for government and the community by minimising long-term deterioration in dental health. It is a sound and sensible investment," added Dr Fryer.

The ADA also supports the re-direction of government funding from the CDDS; although an apparent reduction in funding for the 2013 calendar year is noted. The CDDS delivered some valuable care but was too widely available and utilised by Australians who were already able to access treatment.

"The ADA accepts that the CDDS funding model was flawed but the chronically ill have special needs and those who have not been able to access care through financial or geographic disadvantage must continue to receive assistance. Increasing the capacity of the public dental system will help meet this need."

The ADA looks forward to further discussions with Government as to the implementation of this new scheme.

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