Training for dental assistants is delivered in the vocational education and training sector. The Health Training Package includes Certificate III and Certificate IV courses in Dental Assisting, which are delivered by training providers in every state. The Certificate IV in Dental Assisting consists of three core units and four elective units, with the electives able to be packaged to provide specialty training in dental radiography, oral health promotion, general anaesthesia and conscious sedation, extended duties, dental practice administration, or culturally aware and respectful practice. These qualifications may be completed as part of a work-based traineeship.53
What is the assessment process for overseas-trained dental assistants?
The occupation ‘dental assistant’ is not currently included on the skilled occupation list or the consolidated sponsored occupation list. Therefore people cannot apply for migration under this occupation.
There is no formal assessment process for overseas-trained dental assistants who may enter Australia on other visas (for example, as the spouse of a person who is granted a visa under the general skilled migration programme). In such instances, individual employers may take into account an overseas-trained dental assistant’s experience and skills when recruiting.
Existing workforce position
The existing workforce position was determined from expert opinion from jurisdictions and the profession. A traffic light approach was used (as described in Appendix D). The dental assistant existing workforce position was assessed as red – a perceived current shortage in the workforce, with service demand in excess of existing workforce supply.
The dental assistant workforce is substantial in size, with approximately 19,000 people self-reporting as a dental assistant in 2011. This was an increase of almost one-quarter (22 per cent or 3,439 people) from 2006. Almost all dental assistants are female (Table 44). The characteristics of the dental assistant workforce remained similar from 2006 to 2011, with the largest percentage point change in the percentage of the workforce aged 55 years and over (which increased from 3.5 per cent to 5.8 per cent).
There were no temporary or permanent visa grants to dental assistants as they are not on the skilled occupation list or the consolidated sponsored occupation list.
What is a dental technician?
Dental technicians construct and repair dentures and other dental appliances.54 Dental technicians work closely with dentists and dental prosthetists and usually have no direct contact with patients.55
How are dental technicians trained?
Training for dental technicians is delivered in the vocational education and training sector. The Health Training Package includes a two-year Diploma of Dental Technology, which can be delivered as part of a work-based traineeship or apprenticeship. Griffith University also currently offers a three-year Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Technology degree.
What is the assessment process for overseas-trained dental technicians?
Dental technicians are currently included on the skilled occupation list and the consolidated sponsored occupation list. This means overseas-trained dental technicians are eligible for permanent migration through the skilled independent pathway or through sponsored pathways including state and territory, regional and employer sponsored schemes. They are also eligible for temporary migration through the 457 Temporary Work (skilled) visa.
Before migrating to Australia, the skills and qualifications of overseas-trained dental technicians are assessed for equivalency to Australian standards. This assessment is completed by Trades Recognition Australia.