Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2327..
MR HUMPHRIES: That is right, and we have indicated our view about those things. We have not run away from them. We have not ducked and weaved about them. We did not take three years to return to the Assembly after this occurred to apologise to the Assembly for what had taken place, unlike the position with respect to VITAB. When Mr Berry is prepared to live by the standard that he asks us to live by we will take notice of what he has to say.
MS TUCKER: My question, which is to the Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services, is in regard to orthodontic treatment for adults whose teeth problems have health consequences. In response to my questions in estimates, the minister advised me that he was not intending to open dental services to orthodontic work. In response to a question on notice regarding the options open to adults whose health may be compromised, I was advised that ACT Community Care does not fund such services for cosmetic reasons and that it believes that orthodontic care is best provided during teenage years.
The Queensland system has a sliding scale of one to 10, where the higher categories of eight to 10 relate to conditions which are believed to have health implications and are treated through the government health service. Clearly, the Queensland health service recognises that dental dysfunction can have very real health implications and will fund such work as necessary. Will the minister make a commitment to review his position and his government's position on such services to adults who do not have the resources to pay for such work where it can be demonstrated that without the requisite orthodontic work and care they face significant health risks?
MR MOORE: Ms Tucker would be aware that it was not so many years ago that the federal government withdrew its support for dental work. The financial impact of that was very significant. In the most recent budget, we have recognised that the federal government is not going to change that and we have put a significant amount of money into reducing the waiting list for restorative dentistry and dentures. We are already making significant progress with that. That is the highest priority for us.
Ms Tucker raised an interesting issue. No, we do not work in the same way as Queensland. We have things that they do not have and vice versa. The question, primarily, was about whether we will look at that. I think it is an issue that ought to be looked at in the context of the next budget.
MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question. I am glad to hear that the minister is prepared to look at that. Meanwhile, what do you suggest that people on a low income who are unable to get the orthodontic work done and who consequently face real health problems should do?
MR MOORE: There are many issues in our society which I would like to be able to do something about. The ones we have dealt with were of the highest priority-restorative dentistry and dentures. We have been working on that in a very effective way and we are expecting the 3,500 or so clients on the dental health program's waiting list at the end of March 2000 to be reduced by more than 1,000 within the next year. That is our highest priority and that is the goal we are working for. If there are significant issues of