Pursuing equitable dental care access for everyone 

equitable dental care access
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The Senate Select Committee Inquiry into the Provision of and Access to Dental Services in Australia recently commenced its inaugural public hearing.

This significant event marked a pivotal step in the pursuit of equitable dental care access for all people in Australia. 

Held in Boorloo/Perth on Monday 14 August, the hearing brought together people with firsthand experience of barriers to dental care alongside organisations including the Australian Dental Association WA, Derbal Yerrigan Health Service, the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services and the University of WA Dentistry School.

It is expected that the dental inquiry, initiated and chaired by Australian Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, will make community-led recommendations to chart a pathway to universal access to dental care in Australia. 

The committee ran a survey to hear from the community. It became the largest committee survey in the parliament’s history, with 98 per cent of the 17,000 respondents agreeing that more dental care should be free in Australia.

“We’re hearing directly from the community that escalating cost of living is forcing people to postpone vital dental visits,” said Senator Jordon Steele-John, chair of the Committee and Australian Greens spokesperson for Health.

“There is a deep urgency for the government to transform access to oral health care in this country. No-one should have to choose between paying their rent, paying for food, and accessing oral health care. 

“Chronic dental pain should not be a reality for anyone, let alone children, who are experiencing tooth extractions because our healthcare system fails to provide them with timely, affordable preventative dental care. 

“The lack of dental care coverage within Medicare has far-reaching implications, with preventable dental conditions leading to an astounding 83,000 hospitalisations annually,” Senator Steele-John added.

“Additionally, a staggering 750,000 general practitioner appointments are attributed to dental-related concerns each year. The inclusion of dental care within Medicare has the potential to reduce hospitalisations and make more GP appointments available.

“Governments can’t let the gap in dental care access widen. By bringing this committee to WA, I aspire to chart solutions that’ll improve access.”

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