Standing up for Canberra

Abbott Government cuts to child dental

When she was 14, my mother spent the first six months of her working life paying for her rotten teeth to be pulled out. She was the daughter of a single mother who worked three jobs to keep food on the table, and dental care in such difficult circumstances was a luxury—an option that could not be afforded. 

That is why I rise today to express my anger at the Abbott government's cruel cuts to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule. Nearly half of all Australian children aged between five and six have a history of dental decay. That figure rises to 70 per cent for children from the lower socioeconomic areas. Having good teeth, having a nice smile, is about more than just self-esteem—dental health is critical to our overall physical and mental wellbeing, particularly in our youth.

Dental health is a clear indicator of poverty in adulthood, and the effects of poor dental health can haunt people throughout their lives. I support a denture scheme here in the ACT and I have helped fund mothers who do not want to go to parent-teacher nights because of their bad teeth and people who are frightened of going to job interviews because of their bad teeth.

The Abbott government's decision to cut $125 million from child dental services is short-sighted and cruel, and will leave thousands of Australian families worse off. Budgets are all about priorities; and, if the physical, economic and social wellbeing of all Australians is not a priority, I do not know what is. I call on the government to reverse this cut immediately.

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