Australia's Dentists endorse COAG's National Oral Health Plan 2015-2024

22 February 2016

The Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have successfully worked with the dental profession, policy makers, the community sector and consumer bodies to finalise its 10 year plan to improve Australians’ oral health: Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives: Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2015-2024 (‘National Oral Health Plan’).

The Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) National Oral Health Plan (NOHP) sets the national direction and provides a framework for collaborative action in oral health over the next 10 years. The National Oral Health Plan envisages greater oral health promotion; expanding the reach of water fluoridation; improving access to dental care especially targeting priority populations; aligning and integrating the provision of dental care across the public and private spheres and across jurisdictions; and utilising workforce capacity effectively.

While Australians’ dental health has improved over recent decades, the National Oral Health Plan clearly states there are areas that need to be addressed:
 
  • More than 90% of adults and 40% of young children have experienced tooth decay at some stage in their life.
  • Three out of ten adults have untreated tooth decay.
  • Only four out of every ten Australian adults (39%) have a favourable visiting pattern, i.e. seeing a dentist once a year for a check-up, rather than waiting to treat poor oral health.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and adults who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes have more than double the rate of poor oral health than their counterparts.
  • People with additional or specialised health care needs or those living in remote and very remote areas find it more difficult to access oral health care.1

President of the Australian Dental Association (ADA), Dr Rick Olive AM RFD, said, “The National Oral Health Plan acknowledges what the research clearly demonstrates: That Australianswith healthy mouths have healthy lives. Australia’s dentists, represented by the ADA, have long worked with government and other stakeholdergroups to provide detailed feedback on this whole-of-nation government plan.

The ADA urges Australian governments at all levels to allocate the resources and show the political will to ensure that the National Oral Health Plan is implemented. One way that this commitment can be instantly made clear is a decision to secure ongoing funding for Child Dental Benefits Schedule and to replicate that Scheme to the other socially disadvantaged groups identified in the NOHP.”

Supporting COAG’s National Oral Health Plan, the ADA has recently launched its Australian Dental Health Plan which provides the details on how the following priority populations in demonstrated need for dental care can be targeted in the most effective and efficient way possible:
 
  • People who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • People living in regional and remote areas.
  • People with additional and/or specialised health care needs


COAG’s National Oral Health Plan 2015-2025 can be accessed at www.coaghealthcouncil.gov.au/Publications/Reports

The ADA’s Australian Dental Health Plan can be accessed from the ADA’s website

Interviews available with: Dr Rick Olive AM RFD, President of the Australian Dental Association

Reference:
1 COAG Health Council, Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives: Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2015-2024, ix
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