Canberra Report: Public dental funding cuts a kick in the nation's teeth

Recent data showing that Australia's oral health is in a shocking condition highlights the Rgrowing need to invest in rural and regional health services.

The Turnbull Government must get serious about oral health and drop their cuts to adult public dental.

The Australian Dental Association's Oral Health Tracker released to coincide with World Oral Health Day last month, paints a frightening picture of the state of the nation's teeth at all ages. Close to a third of children (5-10 years old) have untreated tooth decay.

Almost half of Australian children have not visited a dentist before their fifth birthday.

Ninety percent of adults have suffered from tooth decay and almost half of adults have not had a check-up in the last 12 months and only half brush their teeth the recommended two times a day.

Poor access to dental care is a significant issue for people in rural and remote areas according to information from the Rural Health Alliance. Overall rural residents have a higher incidence of unfavourable visiting patterns (38 per cent) than urban residents (27 per cent). Here in the Hunter New England region, almost 9000 people are waiting for dental treatment. While these people in the Hunter wait, Turnbull is cutting dental funding.

Dental and oral problems aren't just about a toothache - in older Australians they can lead to poor nutrition, weight loss, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and they can cause developmental problems in young children.

Labor knows that an investment in oral health isn't just about teeth - it's an investment in people's wellbeing. People should not suffer simply because they live in rural and regional Australia. That's why we funded the Children's Dental Benefit Schedule, targeted to ensure that as many children as possible have access to essential dental care. And it's why we fought time and time to protect it - both against plans to axe the scheme and reduce the value of the scheme.

This data also shows how short sighted the Turnbull Government's $300 million a year cut to adult public dental services is.

The cut will see 337,000 Australians lose access to life-changing dental services, putting more pressure on waiting lists and leaving older Australians languishing with poor oral health. I encourage people in the Hunter to prioritise their oral health - and I urge the Turnbull Government to provide much-needed funding to address this crisis, and drop their cuts to public dental.


I would like to invite all Hunter constituents to the Hunter Community Forum at East Cessnock Bowling Club on Tuesday, April 17 from 10am to 1pm.

The community forum is a free, informative event that aims to inform locals about the range of services available within our community.

Guest speakers from Hunter Financial Services, Hunter Community Legal, Human Services, NSW Police, Lifeline and Coalfields Healthy Heartbeat will run information sessions with representatives on hand to answer questions. There will also be information packs and resources available on a range of topics.

All are welcome to attend. I look forward to the opportunity to address the forum and to let people know more about my role as Federal Member for Hunter and how my office can assist you. Please RSVP for the forum by calling 4991 1022 or email

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