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Federal Labor supports James Cook University Dental School in Cairns.

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Media Statement - 11th November 2007

Federal Labor Supports James Cook University Dental School In Cairns

Nicola Roxon Stephen Smith Jim Turnour

Federal Labor will support James Cook University’s proposal for the Cairns School of Tropical Dentistry, building on Labor’s Commonwealth Dental Health Program.

Federal Labor will commit $52.5 million over 4 years towards this project.

This funding will include:

• $33 million in capital funding; • $11 million to provide 60 commencing dentistry places each year; and • $2 million each year to provide outreach services so that dental students can undertake practical training in remote Northern Australia.

After eleven years of neglect, lack of planning by the Howard Government has resulted in chronic shortages in Australia’s dental workforce, particularly in outer metropolitan, regional and rural areas.

Labor recognises the need for long term planning for the future of Australia’s dental workforce. A Rudd Labor Government will consult with health and dental professionals to ensure that this occurs.

The establishment of JCU’s School of Tropical Dentistry will provide a significant boost to James Cook University and to the dental workforce in Northern Australia in the long term.

Too many Australians in Far North Queensland suffer from poor oral health, and find it difficult to get the dental services they need.

In the Cairns area, there are around 4000 people waiting for treatment at the Edmonton Dental Clinic alone.

This is why Labor has already pledged $290 million to fund up to 1 million dental consultations and treatments in a new Commonwealth Dental Health Program.

Federal Labor has also pledged $510 million towards a Medicare Teen Dental Program, to provide $150 each year towards the cost of a preventative dental health check-up for teenagers in families eligible for Family Tax Benefit (A).

Under Federal Labor’s plan, working families will be able to get the dental care they need, when they need it.

Federal Labor’s commitment will help clear public dental waiting lists around the country which have exploded to 650,000 since the Howard Government cut $100 million a year from dental health in 1996.