As the federal election campaign moves towards the pointy end, and with Labor’s fortunes sliding at the polls, Page MP Janelle Saffin yesterday promised $3 million for new dental services in her electorate.
The move comes hot on the heels of revelations that north coast residents have among the worst teeth in the state, amid state government moves to persuade councils to fluoridate their water supplies.
The three-year Community Dental Care Fund would be managed by the Ballina-based North Coast NSW Medicare Local.
‘Our Medicare Local has been working with local dentists, Aboriginal medical services and other groups to identify gaps in public dental care, and this fund will go a long way to meeting need in the community,’ Ms Saffin said.
‘The coalition have yet to give a clear commitment to the future of frontline health workers’ jobs, funded through Medicare Locals. Our community needs Medicare Locals and they need to know that their vital role is guaranteed.
‘This new dental program will cover major centres like Lismore, Ballina, Casino, Grafton and Yamba, as well as smaller country towns and villages.
‘Coraki residents recently met with federal health minister Tanya Plibersek and myself to brief us on their health needs and today’s dental package includes a bonus announcement for Coraki and its surrounding district.’
The new arrangement would provide mobile dental services to residential and aged-care facilities, small country towns, school clinics and homeless shelters to provide dental care to the most disadvantaged.
Extra support would be given to the Aboriginal Medical Services network in Grafton, Casino, Lismore and Ballina.
And two new dental chairs will be provided for the proposed Health One facility in Coraki, once it is built by the NSW government.
In other dental health news, Lismore City Council will again consider the issue of fluoridation at its meeting next week after it last month decided to abandon plans to add fluoride to the water despite winning a court appeal by anti-fluoridation activist Al Oshlack.