The Labor Government is establishing three regional hubs in the Bendigo, Geelong and Latrobe Valley areas, to extend Melbourne’s Underground service, saving Victorian parents time, money and hassle when it comes to the health of their child.
The centers will offer a range of specialist dental care that not all general dentists are able to provide, including areas such as pediatric dentistry, oral surgery care and the treatment of children with special needs.
This means that children in regional areas will no longer have to travel long distances to Melbourne to receive treatment through the public health system. The new centers are expected to open later this year and will ultimately save families hours of travel and allow more children to get the specialized dental care they need closer to home.
The new centers will also expand the state’s dental workforce, create more jobs and support the continued demand for Victoria’s public dental service now and in the future.
Additionally, the centers will free up appointments for adults in the public health system and reduce wait times for those who need specialized dental care.
Children can be referred to these new services through the Smile Squad program, which provides free dental care to public school students in Victoria. Smile Squad offers free dental checkups and treatment to children in public schools in Victoria.
The Smile Squad clinical vans first hit the road in 2019 and have since helped thousands of children receive free, high-quality dental care at school. The program offers specialized care beyond annual exams such as fillings, root canals and crowns.
The Victorian Budget 2022/23 provides $327.7 million in funding to public dental services, which provide care to more than 330,000 eligible Victorians.
As Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said
“Maintaining good dental health in children establishes healthy habits for life, which is why it is so important that we provide specialist dental care in the regions.
“These new centers will increase the overall capacity of our public dental system, meaning more Victorians will be able to get the care they need earlier and closer to home.”
“These new hubs will also provide excellent career opportunities for those interested in dentistry and in a way thatbenefit tos regional communities.“