The Policy Pitch

Bookings required

05 March 2019, 6:00pm7:15pm
Bookings through Grattan Institute
Location Village Roadshow Theatrette
via Entry 3, La Trobe Street
Accessibility Has wheelchair access

Filling the dental gap: meeting unmet oral health needs

Two million Australians delay or miss out on dental care each year because of cost. Although people on low incomes fare worst, even people on higher incomes miss out on care. The existing public response is uncoordinated, unplanned, and inadequate. State public dental schemes are so overwhelmed that many people wait more than a year for care.

What should be done?

Part of the answer is improving the value of existing public dental services. But part of the answer is that the Commonwealth should expand its role and establish a universal dental scheme paralleling Medicare. The universal scheme should cover primary care dental services, including preventive dental care, such as scaling, fixing cavities and gum disease, and undertaking extractions. The first step should be the Commonwealth assume responsibility for the most needy – pensioners and healthcare cardholders. This will cost about $1 billion a year, taking into account what states already spend. This Policy Pitch will hear about both of these approaches.


Stephen Duckett, is Director of the Health Program at the Melbourne-based think tank, Grattan Institute. He has held top operational and policy leadership positions in health care in Australia and Canada including as Secretary of what is now the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Zoe Wainer, is Chair of the Board of Dental Health Services Victoria, and has recently completed a secondment to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.  

About the Policy Pitch

In this engaging seminar series a panel of experts and thinkers tackle some of the most important problems facing Australia, from cultural hot-button topics to pressing social concerns. Join us each month for lively, intelligent and thoughtful debate on subjects that impact us all.

The Policy Pitch is a joint initiative of State Library Victoria and Grattan Institute, an independent think tank dedicated to developing high-quality public policy for Australia’s future.


Book now