- Sussan LeyFederal Minister for Health
- Richard Di NataleSenator
- Bill ShortenOpposition Leader
Stop the government axing free dental care for kids
Don't let the government axe the Child Dental Benefits Schedule
The dental health of Australia's children is under threat. Already disadvantaged children, up to 3.4 million of them in fact, will find their health taking another hit when the federal government axes the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) in this year’s budget. Rather than taking more away from people who already have so little, the government should be investing more money in dental health services, not just for kids but right across Australian society. This isn’t an area where the government should be trying to save money. Take the CDBS away and the health of these children will suffer greatly.
The dental health of Australia's kids is already in peril. Over 50% of all 6 year olds have experienced tooth decay, and more than 24,000 children under 14 were hospitalised for dental treatment in 2013-14 alone. These are scary stats by themselves but there's plenty of research that says the state of a child's dental health has a big effect on how well they do at school, on their social skills and self-esteem, and ultimately on their adult dental and overall health. Even lifestyle and job prospects can be adversely affected, so the impact is long and unpleasant.
The fact is that the CDBS goes a long way to preventing these bleak scenarios for kids from becoming a reality. In its first two years of operation dentists across Australia delivered over 9.7 million dental services to Australian children. This is important because research shows that it is far cheaper to spend money on preventive measures than corrective treatment, meaning the CDBS represents great value for money. More importantly, it means that children won't be negatively affected throughout their life by easily preventable dental pain and discomfort.
We need more government funding of dental services, not less. The dental health of Australia’s children is on the line, and this vital scheme can’t be allowed to go without a fight.
- Federal Minister for Health
Richard Di Natale
- Opposition Leader
Axing a service like the Children Dental Benefits Schedule may seem like just another expenditure measure for the government, but taking it away will have a serious long-term impact on the health of our kids well into adulthood. It’s an investment in the health and lives of our children who are already behind the eight ball when it comes to dental health.
With more than 50% of kids under 6 having tooth decay and 26,000 children under 15 having to go under anesthetic for dental treatment, we’re already failing to give our children the dental care they need. Tooth decay is already the most prevalent chronic disease affecting Australian children and there’s evidence that it affects how kids perform at school, how they socially interact and their self-esteem.
So there’s a lot at stake. It’s not just kids’ health at stake but their future health and well-being.
The government should be spending more money on dental services, not just for children but for a whole range of disadvantaged groups throughout society. I implore you to keep the CDBS and ensure our kids get the dental healthcare they need and deserve.
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