House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Statements by Members

Dental Health

1:33 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today as a son of a very good dentist and the brother of a very good dentist to decry the government's lack of a comprehensive and ongoing dental healthcare plan for all Australians. The minister's recent announcement of 12 months of funding for what is manifestly a very small part of dental care is a demonstration of the government's lack of understanding and lack of commitment to dental care.

I know, as a doctor in Australia, that I can look in someone's mouth and know their income. I can look in a child's mouth and know their family's income. I have seen a number of children presenting to our hospitals' emergency departments in the last few of years and also to general practices with severe dental problems, such as severe dental cavities causing pain, dental abscesses and poor oral hygiene requiring emergency treatment because they can't access decent dental care.

We know that poor dental care increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Poor dental care leads to workforce difficulties and difficulty even in obtaining employment. Yet this government has no idea and no comprehensive plan. Australians are suffering because of this government's lack of commitment to decent dental care. It is time for urgent action so that all Australians can access dental care.