Dental care has just become a little more accessible for around 20,800 kids in the Richmond electorate with a $4 billion federal government package announced yesterday.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot said children will now be eligible for government-subsidised dental care, ‘just like they’re eligible for Medicare-funded visits to their GP’.
Mrs Elliot said that under the package, the Gillard government will also provide dental services to more than one million low-income adults and Australians in rural and remote areas, focusing especially on pensioners.
The six-year package includes: $2.7 billion for around 3.4 million Australian children who will be eligible for subsidised dental care; $1.3 billion for around 1.4 million additional services for adults on low incomes, including pensioners and concession-card holders, and those with special needs, who will have better access to dental care in the public system; and $225 million for dental capital and workforce will be provided to support expanded services for people living in outer-metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas.
Mrs Elliot said the package would address increasingly poor oral health amongst Australians, particularly people from low- and middle-income families.
‘For decades Australians have used Medicare to visit the doctor when they’re sick.
‘Unfortunately millions of people don’t visit the dentist because they just can’t afford it – we know low-income households have more than double the number of family members with untreated tooth decay compared with high-income households.
‘That’s why Labor believes we have a responsibility to ensure people who are least able to afford to go the dentist, particularly children, should have access to government-subsidised dental care.’
She said the $4 billion package was in addition to the $515 million announced in the 2012–13 Budget, which included a blitz on public dental waiting lists, additional dental training, and support for people in rural and remote areas.
Children from age two to 17 in Family Tax Benefit Part A-eligible families will be entitled to subsidised basic dental treatment, capped at $1,000 per child over a two-year period.
‘This $2.7 billion initiative aims to address dental decay in children, which has been increasing since the 1990s,’ Mrs Elliot said.
‘The Gillard government is providing $1.3 billion to states and territories under a National Partnership Agreement to expand public dental services for low-income adults. This funding will depend on the states and territories at least maintaining their current level of dental-care services.
‘And $225 million in funding for dental infrastructure in outer-metropolitan, rural and regional areas will assist more Australians, regardless of their location, in gaining access to high-quality dental care.’