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New truck to help boost dental care in Central Australia.

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THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery

THE HON KON VATSKALIS MP Northern Territory Minister for Health

1 July 2010


Adults and children in remote Aboriginal communities will benefit from funding from a new mobile dental truck, announced today in Alice Springs by the Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon and NT minister for Health, Kon Vatskalis.

The new vehicle, to be based in Alice Springs, will provide dental services to service a total of 8,000 people in surrounding communities including Utopia, Lake Nash, Papunya and Epenarra.

“For many communities, this will mean the difference between people seeing a dentist and not being able to get treatment at all because so many of these regions are without public transport, and people would otherwise have difficulty travelling hundreds of kilometres to access services,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Recent research by the Medical Journal of Australia has showed Indigenous 16- to 20-year-olds in the Territory had eight times as much tooth decay and eleven times as much gum disease as non-Indigenous Australians of the same age.

“We’re committed to addressing this issue; this is the first pilot we’re delivering as part of an $11 million initiative called Closing the Gap - Indigenous dental services in rural and regional areas program. This will implement and evaluate pilot projects for mobile dental services for rural and regional Indigenous communities and now we’re seeing Central Australia benefit from that investment,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Australian Government has also funded the NT Government to provide dental follow-up services to children, and 7,865 of these dental services were provided to 4,949 children between July 2007 and May 2010.

Northern Territory Health Minister Kon Vatskalis said the mobile dental van project was the first of a number identified by an independent consultancy.

“It will be implemented in partnership with the NT Government, who will provide staff and maintenance for the vehicle, and data on services provided.”

“These projects will not only provide essential services for communities, but will also help us determine the best options to address the major oral health problems faced by Indigenous Australians, especially in rural and regional areas,” Mr Vatskalis said.

Media: Alice Plate (Snowdon) 0400 045 999 Maria Billias (Vatskalis) 0401 119 746