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Free Dental and Mental Health Care for Rural and Regional Communities in WA

Media Release
Jordon Steele-John 13 Apr 2022

The Greens today announced their commitment to providing people in rural and regional communities with access to free mental and dental health care through Medicare.

The commitment is part of the Greens’ broader $77.6 billion investment into free dental care over the decade for all Australians, which was also announced today. Under the plan, people will still be able to choose their dentist and routine and therapeutic dental services will be bulk-billed or rebated.

Right now, many critical dental services are not available in regional and rural communities. If they are, they often have unacceptably long wait times.

Further compounding the issue is vast travel distances and increased costs of healthy food choices and oral hygiene products. As a result, people living outside the major centers experience considerably poorer oral health outcomes than people who live in urban areas.

The Greens are the only party to commit to free and universal dental care under Medicare, ending the outdated exclusion of oral health from Australia’s public health system.

Quotes attributable to Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John:

“We know that people who live in rural and regional communities have poorer oral health than people who live in major cities.

“That’s not good enough. Postcode should not be a determinant of health in this country.

“Dental services often aren’t available in regional WA, where there are fewer dental practitioners than in urban areas. Coupled with longer travel distances and limited transport options, the impact on dental health for people in the regions is significant.

“In 2012, The Australian Greens secured free dental care for kids. We’re committed to ensuring that right extends to every person in Australia, no matter their age or where they live.”

Quotes attributable to Yamatji-Noongar woman and Greens Senator Dorinda Cox:

“People living in rural and regional areas have the right to expect the same level and quality of dental services as city residents.

“But some regions in country WA have had some of the lowest rates of practising dentists in the country for decades, which means some residents wait years for treatment.

“While rural and regional areas – including remote Aboriginal communities – have been identified as priority areas for dental services by various governments in the past, it’s clear that not enough has been done to ensure these communities get access to the services they need.

“The Greens are committed to ensuring that regional dental outcomes are brought in line with the standards we see in the city.”

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