Another Federal Budget that ignores oral health

11 May 2021

The government has delivered their budget for FY21-22 and overall it was a disappointing result for those in the community who need greater access to oral health care.
On the positive side, there was one announcement in relation to dental schemes.
The age for eligibility under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) has been extended to children under the age of two to help children form a positive relationship with dentists earlier in life.  
This proposal for this extension was outlined in the Fourth Review of the Dental Benefits Act in 2020 as part of a suite of reforms that should be made to the CDBS. While any increase in access to services for children is welcome, this initiative is not the key change that was needed with children who need treatment under GA will still miss out on receiving benefits under the scheme. 

The ADA, which is currently considering the issue, understands that the issues affecting access to treatment under GA are complex and broader than just the CDBS. Even so, the lack of recognition of this issue in this Budget is a disappointing outcome for many children in the community who have no other option but to receive care under general anaesthetic.  The ADA will continue to lobby for changes so that this gap can be addressed.
The second announcement related to oral health was the extension of the National Partnership Agreement for adult dental services for another 12 months.  A positive result, but what is needed is a long-term solution to funding for public dental services that go beyond 12 months.  It is difficult for the public sector to plan dental services and offer job security to dentists when they are reliant on annual agreements to fund services and salaries.
The ADA will be working with public dental directors to support them and work collaboratively towards a more permanent solution.
What is missing in the Budget is any response to the oral health of older Australians.  The ADA, among other organisations, has made a clear case to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety about the oral health problems of residents in aged care facilities and offered a range of solutions but the Budget shows the political courage to act is not there.  The ADA will continue to advocate on behalf of these vulnerable Australians until change is enacted.

Update - 13 May 2021

 As an active member of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the ADA is uniquely placed to report on a number of key Budget initiatives that will provide material benefit to members.

In addition to the information and analysis on the Federal Budget for FY21-22 (above), there are two main areas of the Budget that the believes could be beneficial to those in the dental profession.

Business tax relief
$20.7 billion in tax relief has been assigned for businesses through an extension of both the temporary full expensing and temporary loss carry back programs for another year (to June 2022-23).

The increase in the Superannuation Guarantee to 12% by 2024-25 will proceed as currently legislated.

For the full scope of business initiatives in the Budget, go to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Budget-In-Brief Summary