ACOSS calls for national dental scheme

ACOSS has called for a national dental scheme to counter Australia's oral health problems, especially amongst the financially challenged.

ACOSS has called on the Australian Government to tackle waste while giving priority to those who struggle the most in the next Federal Budget, and have specifically called for a national population-based oral health program, in place of the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme and Teen Dental Program.

“There are glaring gaps in our national policy efforts to reduce poverty and exclusion, including the inadequacy of income support and employment assistance for unemployed people, sole parents, young people and people with disabilities who rely on payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance,” said ACOSS acting CEO Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine. “There is no question that, through good economic stewardship, Australia has fared relatively well during the recent global economic downturn and our unemployment rate remains relatively low. However, it is also clear that, at the beginning of 2012, progress in reducing unemployment further has stalled, Australia’s economic growth prospects are uncertain in the short term, and structural changes in the economy pose social challenges as well as economic ones.

“The solution to the tension between resources and need is not to retreat from reform but to pursue it more comprehensively, with a sustained attack on wasteful expenditure and tax breaks, while continuing social and economic reforms to improve support for those who continue to struggle to make ends meet,” said Dr Boyd-Caine. “In addition to long overdue reforms to the lowest income support payments such as Newstart, the absence of a national scheme to guarantee affordable basic dental treatment for people on low incomes, and the growing crisis in the supply of affordable, secure housing are also key priorities.”

The ACOSS Budget Priority Statement outlines policy recommendations for consideration by the Federal Government in its 2012-13 Budget, and can be seen in more detail on the ACOSS website.


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  1. Wasteful expenditure is a given whilst there continues to be the grossly inadequate education system to empower our people to make the informed decisions required to prevent the horrific consequences of oral diseases. A guarantee of basic dental treatment to any sector is no longer wasteful expenditure once we empower effective oral health maintenance. Dr. Tessa’s sustained attack is to be applauded.


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