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ACOSS welcomes Labor’s childcare announcements

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ACOSS is delighted to welcome Labor’s childcare announcements over the weekend, and says Labor’s dental care announcement is a excellent first step to extending Medicare to essential dental services for people on the Age Pension and Senior Concession Card holders, but calls for inclusion of people on Allowances and other Pensions as well.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said, “ACOSS welcomes Labor’s commitment to inject additional government funding into the early childhood care sector, effectively delivering free childcare for lower income families. Every child has a right to high quality early childhood education and care and finances should not be a barrier.”

“We also welcome that the Labor’s commitment ensures government funding goes directly through to the wages of workers. As a highly female dominated workforce, too often, care workers face a lifetime of low paid, insecure work, with the reward of little superannuation, insecure housing and risk of poverty over their lifetime. Government plays an essential role in ensuring that the wages of workers in publicly funded essential services, including early childhood care workers, are properly paid and that workers are protected from poverty,” said Goldie.

“Labor’s announcement of a new scheme to assist with the cost of dental care for Age Pensioners will be welcomed by many people on the Age Pension who are currently waiting on public dental waiting lists, or who can’t afford basic preventive care or to get their teeth fixed. This is an excellent first step in finally extending Medicare to cover dental services in Australia.”

Goldie urges the Labor party to extend its dental care announcement to people on the lowest incomes by applying to those receiving social security payments.

“This announcement by the Opposition also highlights the silence from the Government on dental care. We urge the Government to commit to a significant investment in dental care that ensures that all people on low incomes can access the preventive care and treatment that they need,” she said.

“More than 2 million people in Australia last year delayed or avoided dental care because of the cost. And people on the lowest incomes were the most likely to avoid dental care because of the cost. Poor dental health is a major barrier to people getting a job and it makes no sense to exclude people of working age on the lowest incomes from extended dental services.  

“We know that there are more than 63,000 avoidable hospitalisations each year as a result of preventable and treatable oral health conditions. The lack of a universal scheme incurs a cost on our broader health system.”

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