ADAVB Chief Executive Officer's Comments
March 2019 Hide Comments
Advocating for what matters to you

Meeting with Health Minister
ADAVB Vice President Dr Gitika Sanghvi, Policy & Research Manager Jenny O’Connor and I had a very productive meeting with the new Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on 14 February 2019. We briefed the Minister on the important role the dental profession plays in improving the oral health of the community. Our discussions focused on a number of pertinent issues, including the proposed changes to the Dental Board of Australia Scope of Practice Registration Standard, water fluoridation, the public sector Enterprise Bargaining Agreement and sugar advocacy. 
The most important issue though was the proposed new school dental program, which was a key election promise of the Dan Andrews Labor Government. We were able to highlight several concerns, including the involvement of parents in the informed consent process and oral health education, workforce issues, the involvement of the private sector in the scheme, the impact on existing patient-dentist relationships and logistics issues in implementing a school dental van program. The program offers free dental care to all primary and secondary school children in Victorian public schools – approximately 620,000 children. This includes screening examinations and treatment in dental vans through the public sector. Preliminary planning has commenced with the intention to pilot proof of concept work at a number of sites later this year, before a gradual roll-out over the next three years. We have requested the opportunity to continue to provide input into the planning, implementation and evaluation of the program. 

Public sector strike
I had hoped to write about the conclusion of the ongoing enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) negotiations for the public sector dentists, however the negotiations continue. Despite a funding guarantee provided by the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2018, the employers at several community health centres have failed to agree on a funding mechanism with DHSV and the department. Member frustration at the stalled negotiations led to a 24-hour stop work and public rally on the steps of Parliament on 4 February.
Shadow Minster for Health Georgie Crozier saw the public sector EBA rally and stopped by to talk to members about the strike. I subsequently met with Georgie to brief her on the status of the EBA and public dental funding, and our concerns with the school dental program.
We now understand that the employers, DHSV and DHHS have been working frantically to work out the funding mechanism so that the community health centres receive adequate funding to cover the agreement.

Water fluoridation
Water fluoridation is one of the most successful public health measures and has been an important pillar in helping to reduce the burden of dental caries. We are fortunate in Victoria that around 90 per cent of the population has access to fluoridated drinking water; however there are 500,000 people living in regional and rural areas who miss out on the preventive benefits of water fluoridation. There are around 60 communities where water fluoridation could be implemented. 
It is important that there is strong local community support, and we are working with DHHS on strategies to increase the coverage up to 95 per cent. If you are living or working in a non-fluoridated area, I would love to hear from you, particularly if you are interested in building community support.

ADAVB groups
I’m looking forward to presenting at the ADAVB Southern Group meeting in Geelong later this month and catching up with members in the region. Group meetings provide a good opportunity for socialising and strengthening the collegiality in our profession. If you haven’t been to a group meeting in a while, I challenge you to go to a meeting this year. If you are one of the regular attenders, I challenge you to bring along a guest who hasn’t been a regular attender.

Continuing professional development
As we come towards the end of another CPD cycle, it is important to review your CPD log and ensure you are complying with the DBA requirements. We are continuing with a diverse range of programs this year, with something to suit everyone regardless of their level of experience. We’ve also been listening to members and have reduced our pricing this year so that you can get the most out of your membership.

A/Prof Matt Hopcraft

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Clinical A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft
Chief Executive Officer
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