August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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Summary of results

For dentists and oral health practitioners, while the size and direction of the movement relative to the comparison scenario varies according to each scenario, almost all scenarios present the same result as the comparison scenario – that across the projection period the supply of the workforce is projected to exceed demand. The only exception to this was the high demand scenario for dentists, where demand was projected to exceed supply in 2025. In contrast, the workforce projections for dental prosthetists show that demand is projected to exceed supply across the projection period to 2025 under all scenarios. Despite this, overall the findings reflect those in AFHW – Oral Health – Overview – that there is extra capacity in the oral health workforce.

The WDI results are consistent with the workforce projection results, showing minimal areas of concern for each of the workforces now and into the future.

Detailed information for each oral health workforce

In workforce planning, understanding the number and characteristics of the existing workforce is the essential first step. This chapter brings together available information to describe the oral health workforces. For each workforce, where possible, information is provided on:

  1. What is the workforce? A brief overview of the role and training pathway of the workforce, and the assessment process for overseas-trained practitioners.

  2. What issues are expected to impact supply of, and demand for, the workforce. Considerations that may impact future workforce supply or demand are important in providing a real world context for interpreting historical trends, and developing an understanding of future workforce requirements. Consultation was conducted with employers and the profession to obtain their views on such considerations, which are presented in this publication.

  3. The existing workforce position of the workforce. This is an assessment through stakeholder feedback of whether existing workforce supply matches demand for services or not. The following assessment scale was used, with ratings determined primarily through stakeholder feedback:

  • White: perceived current excess supply

  • Green: no current perceived shortage/workforce in balance

  • Orange: some level of expressed demand exceeding available workforce

  • Red: Perceived current shortage

Appendix D contains further detail on the existing workforce position assessment.

  1. What we know about the workforce. Presentation of data describing the number and characteristics of the workforce, student and migration inflows into the workforce.

Data sources

Information for ‘What we know about the workforce’ is sourced form the following datasets:

National Health Workforce Dataset (NHWDS)

The NHWDS provides information on the registered dental practitioner types. The NHWDS combines data from the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) with dental practitioner workforce survey data collected at the time of annual registration renewal. The dental practitioner workforce survey is administered through the national registration body, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), on behalf of Health Workforce Australia. The dental practitioner NHWDS was collected for the first time in 2011, with data presented for 2011 and 2012 in this report. Survey response rates varied by dental practitioner type. The overall response rate to the dental practitioner workforce survey was 88.3 per cent in 2011 and 92.2 per cent in 2012. As it is a new collection, the NHWDS shows the current characteristics of the dental practitioner workforce.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census of Population and Housing

ABS Census information is used to describe the number and characteristics of the unregistered dental occupations – dental assistants and dental technicians. The census is a descriptive count of everyone who is in Australia on one night, and of their dwellings. Its objective is to accurately measure the number and key characteristics of people who are in Australia on census night, and of the dwellings in which they live. Information in the census is self-reported, meaning information is dependent on individuals’ understanding and interpretation of the questions asked.

Department of Education (DE)

The DE conducts the Higher Education Statistics Collection, which provides a range of information on the provision of higher education in all Australian universities. Information on tertiary course commencements and completions is presented in this publication.

National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

NCVER conduct the vocational education and training (VET) provider collection (also known as the Students and Courses collection). This is an administrative collection of information on students, the courses they undertake and their achievement in the VET sector. This information is sourced from student enrolment records and it is an annual national collection. The VET collection does not obtain information from all private VET registered training organisations, so complete coverage of those providing training, and consequently complete information on those obtaining qualifications, is not available.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)

DIBP information is administrative by-product data, reporting the number of temporary and permanent visa applications granted to dental practitioners.


What is a dentist?

A dentist is someone who practises the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth. Dentistry is a registered health profession under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS). Therefore a practitioner must be registered with the Dental Board of Australia (DBA) to practise as a dentist.

The DBAs Draft Scope of Practice registration standard and guidelines state that dentistry includes the following range of activities:

  • the correction of malpositions of the human teeth or jaws or associated structures

  • radiographic procedures and interpretation of radiographic images of the human teeth, jaws and associated structures

  • the prescription, administration and possession of drugs and poisons in accordance with relevant State and Territory authorisation

  • the construction or fitting or intra-oral adjustment of artificial teeth or corrective or restorative dental appliances; or provision of advice to any person for the purpose of fitting, inserting, adjusting, fixing, constructing, repairing or renewing of artificial dentures or restorative dental appliances

  • the prevention of oral disease and the promotion of oral health

  • the performance of any treatment on the human teeth, mouth or jaws or associated structures2.

Most dentists work in private practice, and may practise all parts of dentistry.

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