Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

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Budget package will ease dental pain

Mon, 07/05/2012
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA)


The Australian Health and Hospitals Association (AHHA) today welcomed the Government’s announcement of a $515 million Budget dental health package targeting those most in need of dental care. This initiative is an extremely important and substantial first step to progressively addressing the dental care needs of the Australian community more comprehensively in future years.

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association is the independent peak membership body and advocate for the Australian healthcare system and a national voice for universally accessible, high quality healthcare.

Australians on waiting lists for dental care will benefit from this Budget package which delivers a substantial boost for public dental services.  This will greatly help improve both their dental health and quality of life as well as improving productivity and reducing hospital admissions,” Ms Prue Power AM, AHHA CEO said today.

The AHHA is ready to support and assist the forthcoming negotiations between the Government and the Australian Greens which will consider further steps on the journey towards universal access to dental treatment for all Australians.

AHHA welcomes funding in this Budget package for dental health workforce and infrastructure. The increase in placements for the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program doubles the number of dental graduates able to take advantage of this opportunity to broaden their professional experience and help address workforce shortages in under-serviced areas. Extending this program to oral health therapist graduates will increase their contribution to oral health services for needy communities.

Improving dental health services in the bush is also a welcome focus of this package with funding for relocation grants and dental health infrastructure in rural and regional areas. These measures will help address the gap between the dental health status of Australians who live in the bush and those in urban areas.

"Importantly, there is also funding in the package for supporting pro-bono dental care targeting some of the most marginalised in the community. These include people with limited means who may not have access to mainstream services, such as Indigenous Australians, the homeless, women and children in shelters, and refugees.

This Budget package is a welcome response to seven years of campaigning by AHHA for a better deal for dental health. During this time AHHA has seen Australia’s dental health decline with hundreds of thousands of Australians languishing on public dental health waiting lists, often in pain and with reduced dental function. During the seven years of our campaign, we have been joined and supported by a number of other key health organisations. In particular we acknowledge the contribution of the Australian Council on Social Services, the National Rural Health Alliance, Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance and the Public Health Association of Australia. These organisations have all played a major role in advocating for better public dental services and should be congratulated for their achievement in obtaining this substantial Budget boost for public dental services" Ms Power said.

For more information/comment: Ms Prue Power, CEO AHHA, 0417 419 857