18 November 2018

BRINGING BACK THE FREE DENTAL VAN TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Students across Victoria will now have a brighter smile with a re-elected Andrews Labor Government to provide free dental care at all public primary and secondary schools.

The $395.8 million initiative will save families around $400 a year per child in dental costs, as well as the inconvenience of taking time off work for appointments.

It will also free up more than 100,000 places in the public dental care system each year, which has been left reeling thanks to the Liberals’ cuts. These cuts – which represent 30 per cent of public dental funding – have left 140,000 disadvantaged Victorians waiting longer or missing out on vital dental care altogether.

In north-east Victoria, this will mean 8,402 students will be able to access free dental care at school.

Oral disease is one of the most common and expensive diseases to treat, but it is also the most preventable. Public dental care is available for Victorian children aged up to 12 years, but less than 20 per cent of eligible children take it up.

That is why Labor will make it easier to access with dental vans visiting all public schools, saving parents both time and money. The initiative will cover oral health education and check-ups, radiographs, teeth cleaning, application of fluoride and dental sealants, fillings, root canals and impressions for mouth guards.

Students will also be provided with a free dental pack each year to promote ongoing oral health. Across Australia, a quarter of all children have untreated tooth decay. In Victoria, dental conditions are the highest single cause of preventable hospitalisations for kids under 10.

Scott Morrison and the federal Liberals have taken an axe to dental services – with funding cuts to the tune of $30 million leaving the system in decay, and waiting lists growing ever longer. We’ve already invested $12.1 million on a waiting list blitz to fix their mess – but there is more to do.

Only Labor will make sure around 500 dentists, oral health therapists and dental assistants are employed to staff the 250 dental vans over the next four years.

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