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Budget 2012: Blitz on dental waiting lists to benefit low income Australians



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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP Minister for Health

MEDIA RELEASE

8 May 2012

Blitz on dental waiting lists to benefit low income Australians

The Gillard Government today announced 400,000 people will benefit from a blitz on public dental waiting lists as part of a $515.3 million drive in foundation measures.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the 2012-13 Budget will also direct vital health dollars to additional training to help boost the public dental service workforce, and improve dental infrastructure in regional, rural and remote areas.

“Delivering more affordable oral health and improving access to dental services for Australians is a major priority of the Gillard Government,” Ms Plibersek said.

Ms Plibersek said $345.9 million will be directed to treating patients on waiting lists over the next three years, providing vital services to around 400,000 adults including support for Indigenous Australians.

“New spending in this Budget will see a blitz on state government waiting lists to help meet the emergency treatment and prevention needs of people who are eligible for public dental care,” Ms Plibersek said.

Funding injections into two additional programs will help to increase capacity in the dental workforce and boost services in the public sector and other areas of need, providing necessary foundations for continued improvement in dental care.

“These are significant steps towards a better system of dental care.”

Ms Plibersek said the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program will be increased from 50 to 100 placements per year by 2016 at a cost of $35.7 million over three years.

“This funding boost will provide practice experience and professional development opportunities, including in underserviced areas, to additional dental graduates.”

The Government will also direct $45.2 million over four years to introduce an Oral Health Therapist graduate year program that will give placement opportunities, with a focus on public dental services, to 50 new graduates each year from 2014.

“These placements will enable graduates to provide additional preventative dental care and health advocacy to adults and children in areas of need.”

As part of the Budget, services in the bush will be strengthened by a new grants program to encourage and help dentists relocate to regional, rural and remote areas, at a cost of $77.7 million over four years.

Ms Plibersek said relocation grants of between $15,000 and $120,000, depending on the area to which a dentist moves, and grants of $250,000 to help with the purchase and fit-out of dental facilities, will be provided.

The Government will also invest $8.2 million in projects to improve facilities and buildings that will boost dental services in regional Australia as part of the second regional-specific round of the Health and Hospitals Fund.

The Budget will include $10.5 million over three years in funding for national oral health promotion activities, recommended as a key activity in the report of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health.

The Budget also includes $450,000 over three years to non-government organisations to coordinate the provision of pro bono dental health services for those in greatest need.

“These services will be provided to people with limited means such as Indigenous Australians, the homeless, women and children in shelters, and refugees.”

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220