Closing the Gap - Indigenous dental services in rural and regional areas

Closing the Gap - Indigenous dental services in rural and regional areas

Department of Health and Ageing

Key Elements

The Australian Government will invest $11.0 million over four years to improve the dental health of Indigenous Australians.

The pilot program will provide transportable and mobile dental facilities to deliver dental treatment and prevention services to regional and remote Indigenous communities and assess the effectiveness of transportable dental facilities in communities where dental professionals and infrastructure are scarce.

Dental health is an identified priority area in the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, and this measure will assist in closing the gap in health, education and employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Background

Poor oral health can affect educational and employment outcomes and can exacerbate other chronic diseases and their risk factors, such as poor nutrition.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander oral health is significantly worse than that of the non-Indigenous population. Indigenous children have twice the level of dental caries than the general population and are less likely to receive treatment.

As well, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regional and remote areas do not have adequate access to dental treatment facilities.  Compared with the Australian average, Indigenous Australians are about 20 per cent less likely to visit a dentist.  Living outside a capital city increases this disadvantage.

Through piloting mobile dental services in priority areas, this initiative will contribute to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes in priority areas, while increasing the evidence base on models of service delivery for dental care in regional and remote Australia.

Implementation

This initiative will commence in July 2009.

Total Government Funding

The Government is providing $11.0 million over four years for this measure.

Content Updated: 23 May 2012