Constituency Question: Dental Services at Public Primary and Secondary Schools
|Ros Spence (Yuroke): My constituency question is to the Minister for Education. What is the latest information that the minister can provide on the delivery of the Andrews Labor government’s commitment to provide dental services at public primary and secondary schools and how this will benefit students and families in Yuroke? As any parent knows, oral diseases are among the most expensive to treat. However, they are also among the most common and the most preventable. This fantastic program will save parents time and money, and ensure that children get access to the vital health services they need. The Yuroke electorate is home to many school-aged children, and I am sure that residents will be very interested in any additional information the minister can provide.
The School Dental Program, Smile Squad, will deliver on the Andrews Labor Government’s election commitment to provide $321.9 million in funding for oral health teams to visit all government primary, secondary and special schools over the next four years. It will play a crucial role in the prevention of oral health problems.
This initiative is being led by the Department of Health and Human Services and Dental Health Services Victoria, who are working closely with the Department of Education and Training to ensure the program works in the school environment.
Smile Squads will be rolled out in several phases, commencing with a proof of concept phase from Term 3 2019 across four local areas inclusive of: Box Hill, Wodonga, Barwon South and Cranbourne.
Full program roll-out will commence in Term 1, 2020, reaching up to 40 per cent of government schools in 2020, 70 per cent of schools in 2021 and 100 per cent of schools in 2022. Further information on where the program will be expanded to from Term 1 2020 will be provided as soon as it is available.
Once fully rolled out by the end of 2022, the Smile Squad initiative will mean every single government school student in Victoria will have access to free dental care. That’s 650,000 kids receiving check-ups and follow up treatment as needed every year, including the school-aged children of Yuroke.
This will drive down dental costs for Yuroke families, saving as much as $400 per child each year, and help avoid trips to the emergency department. It will also keep Yuroke children happy, healthy and learning better, as good health is the key to a good education.
It’s a fantastic initiative and the most significant investment in public dental health for quite some time.
The Hon James Merlino MP