ADAVB President's Comments
November 2019 Hide Comments
The end of the year approaches but our advocacy work continues
Media campaign
We are excited to launch our community media campaign this month. Council has put a lot of thought over the last year into how we can make the public more aware of their oral health while increasing the brand awareness of the ADA. We are confident in recommending our members to the public and look forward to adding more value to your membership with this initiative. 
The campaign will be rolled out over social media and Spotify, and will also be available for members to post and share. The messages will not only prompt people to put a date in their diary for their regular check, but will also direct patients to an ADAVB dentist.
Private health insurance
The ADA has launched a petition to help advocate an end to discriminatory rebates by private health insurers and to put extra pressure on the Australian Government to address the issue. 
This petition will only be effective if the ADA can demonstrate to the Government that ordinary Australians are being affected financially by choosing their own dentist rather than being limited to the ones contracted to their health fund. 
Private health insurance should give patients the right to choose their practitioner and they should not be financially disadvantaged because of it. 
We need members and practices to play an active and integral role by starting the conversation with patients and advocating on their behalf. 
Download the petition at and get your patients, staff, family and friends to sign it. Once you collect as many signatures as you can (ideally 100 or more), send the papers to the ADA, which will collate them all and submit the petition to the Senate. The more signatures we can collect, the more apparent it will be to the Government that a change in private health insurers’ behaviour is necessary.
DIY dentistry
As many of you will have already noted, DIY dentistry is on the rise. Tooth whitening kits available on the internet and clear aligner treatment without any contact with a dental practitioner are both incredibly worrying examples of DIY dentistry. These expose the public to considerable risk from unnecessary, harmful and potentially irreversible damage to their dental health. 
We will continue to advocate on this issue with the Australian Government and relay our concerns to the regulators. We are also working with other associations to explore what else can be done to protect the public.  
Violence against women
There has been increasing community discourse and media spotlight on violence against women in recent years. We are all aware of the devastating impact of domestic violence on victims and their families. As dentists, we are in a valuable position to identify signs of abuse, ask questions, and refer patients on for further care and support. I’m proud of the dental community’s work in volunteering to treat victims of domestic violence both through the Australian Dental Health Foundation and other charities. You can read about this on page 15. Please also refer to this month’s Clinical Update, ‘Intimate partner violence screening in the dental setting’, on page 20, which focuses on a US study about how dental professionals perceive their roles in identifying victims of domestic violence.
Spring Golf Day
It was my pleasure to attend the Royal Melbourne Golf Club (RMGC) for lunch before all the players went to their tees to begin. 
The ADAVB Spring Golf Day has been held at RMGC for many years, however next year the event will be held at the Victoria Golf Club, which is also considered one of the top clubs around.
Much as I was tempted to play on such a beautiful course, I did not feel my skill was up to par. However, there is a golf day coming up in February that is more suitable for beginners like me. This event – Nine, Wine & Dine – will combine learning or perfecting golf skills with a relaxed, social atmosphere. Learn more about it on page 23.  
Dr Gitika Sanghvi

Tackling hospital performance?
I can recommend some light reading for you this month. It’s not a horror-fantasy novel, but in the same vein, it has the ability to polarise opinion, and turn the passive health professional to a full-blown activist. Ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the recent Report of the Auditor-General on the performance of Tasmania’s emergency department services. 
As part of my job, I have been fortunate enough to work at the Special Care Dental Unit at the Royal Hobart Hospital alongside an amazingly dedicated team at the Oral and Maxillofacial Unit (OMFU). As a specialist branch of dentistry, I have a sense of duty to speak for my colleagues at the OMFU. For too long the unit has had to scrape by with overworked registrars who have worked on call for 24 hours a day seven days a week. This may have been accepted practice decades ago but this is not legal practice now, and until the Auditor-General can provide a transparent report of the complete disregard for the understaffing problems experienced at our Tasmanian hospitals then I am sorry to say we will never be able to improve the delivery of our health services. 
The Auditor-General concludes that the performance of the hospitals needs to be tackled by reducing ineffective discharge planning and bed management, and cultural barriers to change. He says, ‘The solution to this problem is not simply more beds’. 
You’re right Mr Whitehead, the solution is to increase staffing, increase funding, and provide the Tasmanian Health Service with leadership who have the capability to ensure their departments receive this because the next report that is delivered is likely to describe the very same health outcomes for Tasmanians.
This month, ADATas Vice-President Dr Alex du Bois and I had the pleasure of meeting with Tasmania’s recently appointed health minister, the Hon. Sarah Courtney (pictured below). We discussed the Auditor-General’s report and priority member issues, including: 
  • Discriminatory rebates of health funds 
  • The structured professional relationship of our dental team 
  • The growing oral health problem in aged care crisis. 
We look forward to a continuing relationship to enable member advocacy and improvement of the oral health of our community.
Dr Angie Nilsson

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