Improving oral health and oral health services is a critical national issue. Poor oral health is largely preventable yet very many Australians suffer continuing disadvantage due to their inability to access regular care. Modest progress towards improved services was foreshadowed in the Commonwealth Budget in May, but so much more needs to be done to develop policies that make accessing regular dental care the norm for Australians, instead of the current privilege for those best placed.
A Policy Forum in Canberra on 15 August will consider how interested parties (advocates, the public, media, professional associations) can work together and with governments to build a better dental health system.
A critical consideration is whether this year’s Budget announcements on dental health are the first steps towards a universal scheme of some sort or another for oral and dental care.
A keynote address from Clive Wright, Immediate-Past Chief Dental Officer at NSW Health, will examine concerns that progress towards better oral health has been unduly slow, and will propose ways to make advocacy efforts more effective.
Sue Dunlevy from The Australian will provide advice on how to keep the issue on the political and media agenda. And James O’Brien, from Every Australian Counts, will unpack a successful campaign from which oral health advocates might learn. The Forum will hear the Government’s position confirmed by the Department of Health.
A Panel session involving Tessa Boyd-Caine, Tony McBride, Prue Power and Ian McAuley will address a range of issues that arise from the proposals of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health and 2012 Budget. These include the integration of oral health care into primary care, public-private workforce issues and the economics and politics of ‘the quarantining of the mouth’.
Participants at the Forum will share discussion sessions and agree some steps forward.
The Forum is open to all comers and on-line registration is available via www.ruralhealth.org.au.
The 15 August Forum is being organised by AHHA, PHAA, ACOSS, AHCRA and the NRHA.
Gordon Gregory - Executive Director, NRHA: 02 6285 4660