New body to advise on dental health

Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon.

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, and Greens Health Spokesperson, Senator for Victoria, Richard Di Natale this week announced the establishment of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health as part of the agreement between the Gillard Government and the Australian Greens.

The announcement follows the Budget announcement back in May, when the government promised an expert group would be established to advise on the best way forward for dental health. “In line with our agreement with the Australian Greens, the Government has committed that significant reforms to dental health will be a priority for the 2012-13 Budget. This group will help advise on the development of those reforms,” the Minister said at the time.

Headed by former senior public servant Ms Mary Murnane, the Council will provide expert advice on dental health issues. 

Ms Roxon said the Council will look at the current mix and coverage of dental services in order to provide advice on future needs and priorities for future reform.

“The Council will look at how to improve services to ensure that Australians have access to high quality, cost effective dental services,” Ms Roxon said.

Senator Di Natale said that the Council will play a key role in providing advice on future dental policy.

“There are over half a million Australians who can’t afford dental care. Poor dental health is one of biggest causes of preventable presentations to the emergency room,” Senator Di Natale said.?”That’s why the Greens have made dental health such a high priority and we look forward to the Council’s recommendations.”

Other council members are: Professor John Spencer, former director, Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health; Dr Shane Fryer, President, Australian Dental Association; Professor Johann de Vries, Australian Council of Dental Schools; Dr Martin Dooland, South Australian Public Dental Health Service; Prue Power, Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association; Adam Longshore, Bupa; Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, Australian Council of Social Service; Tony McBride, Chair, Australian Health Care Reform Alliance; Professor Hal Swerissen, La Trobe Faculty Health Science; Julie Barker, President, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association; and Dr Jenny May, Chair, rural health expert.

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  1. The soon to be created vacuum of dental treatments, currently supplied by Chronic Dental Disease Scheme (Enhanced Primary Care), must be filled without delay. It is to be hoped that this National Advisory Council will prove to be more than talkfest while millions of patients, currently under care, will no longer have access.


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