Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin September 2015 Contents 21
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Association of Dentists Inc.
5 th ACAD
February 8 – 12, 2016
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Letters to the
Letters are published at the Editor’s discretion and customary editorial
rights are reserved. We request that letters be brief, of interest to the
general membership and signed. Letters published are an expression of a
personal point of view of the writer and are not necessarily representative
of the policies or opinions of the Australian Dental Association Inc.
Sir, As a past Federal Executive Councillor
I am glad the article about the SOL was
published (ADA News Bulletin, August
2015). Contrary to the public comments
of some (the motivation for which I have
always questioned as possibly due to self-
promotion), it sets out with accuracy the
history of the ADA’s activities on workforce.
It shows the ADA has always been very
active on this issue and has accessed and
researched information available and based
its activities on the information at hand.
It also sets out how that information base
altered over time and how the ADA reacted
to that changing circumstance.
Sir, I was pleased to receive by email on
11 August 2015 the latest Synstrat Dental
Newsletter clarifying the relationship
between the former ADA President,
Bill O’Reilly and a dental corporation.
Correctly, Graham Middleton apologised
for any hurt or embarrassment caused to
Bill by any inferences in the article that his
position was in any way conflicted.
Bill, as Federal President at the time and
Robert Boyd-Boland had an obligation to
present ADA Policies to external bodies. These
policies are available to the public on the
ADA website and are constantly reviewed by
the Branches and Federal Council. To suggest
either of these gentlemen was conflicted was
offensive to those who know them.
In 2005 and beyond, the make-up and
dental workforce numbers were significant
issues and the shortage was acknowledged,
especially in the public sector and rural
and remote areas. ADA favoured a modest
expansion of existing schools.
On 30 July 2007, the Australian Research
Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH)
held a workshop on future dental workforce
needs up to 2020. Remember both then
and now the prevailing philosophy of
governments is competition policy. On behalf
of the ADA, Neil Hewson and I attended,
presenting our policy for a modest increase.
John Spencer on behalf of ARCPOH argued
for greater increases. Largely our differences
were around dental needs and demand.
Perhaps, due to lobbying, we anticipated
more government funding for dentistry,
even possibly Denticare under Medicare.
The Department of Health and Ageing sent
several senior officials. One remarked to me
at the end of the day “When I see dentists
driving taxis, I’ll know we have enough!”
Well they are, and it’s only 2015.
We were promised no new schools until
a thorough workforce review, but election
promises over-rode sensible planning and
more schools ensued.
Members will note the promised review has
finally been completed. Not surprisingly, it
confirms we have an oversupply. Named
Australia’s Future Health Workforce-Oral
Health, it’s an embarrassment to the
government, and not surprisingly, was
tabled on 18 December 2014* (it’s that
embarrassing). We participated in the
consultations on this report, presenting
logical arguments based on our policies
and in the public interest. Thankfully, the
oversupply we warned of was objectively
recognised, and now policy settings are
changing. Witness the removal of dentists
from the Skilled Occupation List. The days
of megaphone diplomacy are long gone,
and evidence-based advocacy requires the
profession to demonstrate it is offering
solutions to public health problems rather
than acting only on behalf of self-interested
The current ADA President, Rick Olive and
Robert Boyd-Boland continue to advocate
for further changes to policy, as evidenced by
the latest submission to the Dental Board of
Australia arguing that UK and Irish dentists
no longer be automatically recognised for
Australian registration and removal of the
Public Sector Workforce Scheme.
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