Taking Responsibility For Dental Health

Waiting lists for dental health care will be slashed and teenagers will receive preventative dental checks under up to $780.7 million of dental initiatives in the 2008-09 Budget.

Page last updated: 13 May 2008

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13 May 2008

Waiting lists for dental health care will be slashed and teenagers will receive preventative dental checks under up to $780.7 million of dental initiatives in the Federal Budget, Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, announced today.

The Rudd Government recognises the importance of dental care, and will deliver more accessible and better targeted dental care. With 50,000 preventable hospital admissions for dental conditions every year, and 650,000 Australians on public dental waiting lists, the time for action is long overdue.

Hundreds of thousands of Australians will have improved access to dental health services under the Australian Government’s new Commonwealth Dental Health Program, aimed at slashing the 650,000-long waiting list for public dental services.

The Government will provide $290 million over three years to State and Territory governments to help fund up to one million additional consultations and treatments for Australians needing dental treatment.

Many Australians don’t even try to get their dental problems fixed, the waiting lists are so bad. Working people are living with decay and oral disease, which can lead to further complications with their health.

The Government’s plan will reduce the strain on the hospital system. Around 50,000 Australians a year are hospitalised for preventable dental conditions.

Funding agreements to support the program will be developed between the Commonwealth and States and Territories. States and Territories will be required to maintain their own level of funding for dental services. They will be able to use the funding to supplement their existing public dental services and/or purchase services from the private sector in areas where public dental services are not able to be accessed.

Building on the program, the Government also supports James Cook University’s proposal for the Cairns School of Tropical Dentistry. The Government has committed $49.5 million to the project, including for capital infrastructure and 60 dentistry places each year.

The Government will also invest up to $490.7 million over five years to help more than one million Australian teenagers look after their teeth.

The Government will provide $150 (through the newly established Dental Benefits Schedule) per eligible teenager towards an annual preventative dental check, including an oral examination, scale and clean and x-rays where required.

Around 1.1 million teenagers aged 12-17 in families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A, and teenagers in the same age group receiving Youth Allowance or Abstudy, will be eligible for the program each year.

Preventative check-ups will help prevent cavities and other dental diseases, and the need for more expensive dental procedures later on.

The Teen Dental Plan will start on 1 July 2008.

These improvements to dental health for all Australians will replace the previous Liberal Government’s failed Medicare dental scheme, which failed to provide for those patients most in need and had low uptake over four years due to its complex referral and eligibility requirements.

Media inquiries only: Sean Kelly – 0417 108 362
For all other inquiries please contact the Minister's office – 02 6277 7220