ALP firm up their position and join Dentists’ bid to save kids’ teeth

13 September 2016

Today’s announcement by the Hon. Bill Shorten and Shadow Health Minister Catherine King that the ALP has successfully negotiated to remove the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) from the Budget Savings Omnibus legislation and will oppose the closure of the CDBS is the first major step towards saving a vital scheme according to the Australian Dental Association (ADA).

“Since it was confirmed that the Government had closure of the CDBS in its sights back in March, the ADA has actively campaigned to save the scheme”, stated the ADA’s President, Dr Rick Olive AM. “This commitment from the ALP to join the Greens and other cross-bench Senators, who have already declared their position, means that the Senate will be able to undertake a full inquiry into the impacts of the proposed closure, which the government had conveniently swept under the rug in their attempts to simply redirect the problem to the already overburdened public system.”

“The simple fact is, the Government was hugely unsuccessful in promoting the scheme to eligible families, sending a voucher that resembled a bill rather than offering parents free dental care for their kids. The scheme has not been given adequate time or promotion so it can reach its full potential, the government blaming parents for not using the scheme when in fact it was their failure to promote it that saw the scheme coming in under budget.”

The ADA has repeatedly argued that under the Government’s proposed Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (CaPDS), children will be pushed back into an overstretched and under-resourced public dental system where they will need to compete with adults for limited services, resulting in a further blowout of waiting lists. The Productivity Commission’s report on public dental waiting lists in 2013-14 show waiting lists in every jurisdiction range between 127 days in metropolitan Perth to 933 days in Tasmania.

“The CDBS affords parents that could not access dental care for their kids the vital preventative treatment they need at a dentist conveniently located to them, either public or private. Under the proposed new arrangements, many families will have no options available other than to travel long distances to the nearest public dental clinic”, Dr Olive added.

“What hasn’t been explained by Government is the fact that even if every eligible child and adult could access public dental care under the CaPDS, each individual would only be able to receive around $42 of Commonwealth funding towards that care. There just isn’t enough money available to provide more”, added Dr Olive. “That is why we need to make sure that every dollar spent on dental care is wisely spent and targeted to the right groups.”

The ADA’s #savetheCDBS campaign petition has received nearly 20,000 signatures calling on the Government to retain the scheme.
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