Labor has promised that every state school student will receive free dental care if re-elected on Saturday.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that his government would fund dental care vans which would travel to Victorian state primary and secondary schools to deliver free check-ups and procedures.
The government says this could save families $400 per child, and remove the need for parents to take time off work to attend their child’s appointments.
The government has pledged $395.8 million dollars to the project.
“The dental bill is something every parent dreads. Labor’s investment means kids will have a great, healthy smile without parents having to worry about the costs.” Mr Andrews said.
The vans will deliver commonplace services such as check-ups and teeth cleaning, as well as being equipped to perform more-complicated procedures such as fillings and root canals.
The government says children will also receive a dental care pack each year to help them keep their teeth healthy.
The fleet will consist of 250 vans, all of which will be on the road by 2022. This is be staffed by 500 dentists and other oral health professionals.
Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino said this would be a massive increase to the number of operational dental health vans.
“Over decades dental vans have been decommissioned to the point now that we’ve only got a handful,” he said.
These mainly service remote schools.
This initiative is intended to help reduce tooth decay, which the government says is the highest single cause of preventable hospitalisation for younger children.
“As a parent, I know how important and expensive good oral hygiene is for young kids. Tooth decay is completely preventable, so we’re ensuring all Victorian students at government schools can get the dental care they deserve,” said Mr Andrews.
Children under 12 are already eligible for government-funded healthcare, however, this program has not been widely adopted. The government says that less than 20 per cent of kids use the program.
The government has promised that this initiative will also ease the pressure on the existing public dental care system, potentially freeing up 100,000 places per year and reducing wait times.
Labor says they would review the program in 2021, potentially expanding to service low-fee Catholic school and independent schools.