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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1415

Mr McKenzie (Diamond Valley) - I ask the Minister for Health: Having regard to the serious problem of dental caries, what action is being taken by the Australian Government concerning the operation of the school dental service? In particular, I would like to know the present situation in Victoria.

Dr EVERINGHAM (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - The Australian Government, in co-operation with the States, has set up an advisory dental committee which has representation from the States, the Territories and the Australian Dental Association. Us function is to supervise an Australian school dental service. All States, except Victoria, will be training dental therapists next year. The Victorian Government has submitted a proposal to us for a dental training school which should be operative in 1975. As far as financing is concerned, the Australian Government will meet all capital and training costs for the dental therapy schools, all capital costs for the clinics for school children and threequarters of the running costs of these clinics. Following the experience in this field of New Zealand, Tasmania and South Australia in particular, we are sure that these proposals will make a major impact on the problem of dental caries and routine dental care of children generally. The Minister for Health in Victoria has expressed some misgivings about the fact that the advisory dental committee is responsible only to the Australian Minister for Health. He believes that this should be a joint responsibility of all Health Ministers. But I think the experience in the past with such joint responsibility has been that it makes for stagnation, inaction and buck passing. I can assure him that my officers, the advisory committee on which his administration is represented and everybody concerned are anxious only to co-operate at all stages in this activity.

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