August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral Health

Overview Report

August 2014

© Commonwealth of Australia 2014

This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce the whole or part of this work in unaltered form for your own personal use or, if you are part of an organisation, for internal use within your organisation, but only if you or your organisation do not use the reproduction for any commercial purpose and retain this copyright notice and all disclaimer notices as part of that reproduction. Apart from rights to use as permitted by the Copyright Act 1968 or allowed by this copyright notice, all other rights are reserved and you are not allowed to reproduce the whole or any part of this work in any way (electronic or otherwise) without first being given the specific written permission from the Commonwealth to do so. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights are to be sent to the Communication Branch, Department of Health, GPO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601, or via e-mail to

The Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral Health Overview report was developed by Health Workforce Australia with the input of key stakeholders for the consideration of Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Ministers.

Health Workforce Australia was abolished on 8 October 2014.

The Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral Health Overview report was approved for publication by the Commonwealth and all State and Territory Health Ministers on 10 October 2014.

The recommendations contained in the Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral Health Overview report will be the subject of further consideration.

Enquiries concerning this report and its reproduction should be directed to:

Department of Health
GPO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601

Suggested citation: Health Workforce Australia 2014: Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral Health – Overview


Contents 4

List of tables 5

List of figures 6

Preface 7

Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral health 8

Summary 9

Key points of the Report 10

Introduction 11

Australia’s Future Health Workforce Reports 12

Oral health in Australia 13

The importance of oral health 14

Oral health services in Australia 15

Public services 16

Private services 19

What workforces deliver oral health services? 20

Policy context 21

How does HWA assess oral health workforce requirements? 22

Workforce planning methodology 23

What workforces are included in AFHW – Oral Health? 29

We have extra capacity in the oral health workforce 30

Differences in oral health outcomes and services 34

Demand for oral health services 35

Barriers to access 37

Link between oral health and access to services 38

Populations for specific action 39

Dental visiting patterns of populations identified for specific action 46

Children (aged two to 12 years) 47

Other populations identified for specific action 49

What would happen if we increased services to populations identified for specific action? 54

Projecting workforce supply 55

Projecting workforce demand 56

Conclusion 63

Appendix A – Current adult oral health services provided by the States and Territories 64

Appendix B – Current child oral health services provided by the States and Territories 68

Appendix C – Commonwealth oral health programmes 72

Appendix D – Oral health workforce roles and definitions 74

Appendix E – Methodology 76

Supply methodology 77

Demand methodology 83

Assumptions 86

Accuracy of workforce projections 89

Appendix F – Data sources 90

Workforce supply data sources and data items 91

Workforce demand data sources and data items 93

Appendix G – Workforce planning scenario results 95

Glossary 99

References 100

List of tables

List of figures


Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral health

Demand for oral healthcare services is expected to continue to grow in response to population growth, increased tooth retention into older age, greater awareness of the importance of oral health, and more advanced restorative procedures and technologies.1 Recent federal funding can also be expected to have flow-on implications for the oral health workforce.

It is therefore timely for Health Workforce Australia (HWA) to examine the oral health workforce, with a focus on workforce planning projections. In particular, this work will complement the National Oral Health Plan 2014-2023, providing a strong evidence-base for recommendations made on the oral health workforce.

Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Oral Health (AFHW – Oral Health) provides the results of the oral health workforce planning projections conducted by HWA. It is presented in two publications.

  1. AFHW – Oral Health – Overview. This publication presents HWA’s workforce planning projections for the total oral health workforce, along with a brief description of Australia’s oral health services and demand for those services, particularly among specific population groups (children, older people, low income and socially disadvantaged people, people with special needs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people living in rural and remote areas).

  2. AFHW – Oral Health – Detailed. This publication supports the overview, and provides:

    • Information on the methodology used to generate the workforce projections for individual oral health workforces.

    • Workforce planning projection results for dentists, oral health practitioners (comprised of dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists) and dental prosthetists.

    • Workforce profiles for each oral health workforce, including a brief overview of their role and training pathway, presentation of information describing the number and characteristics of the existing workforce, a summary of issues expected to impact supply and/or demand for the workforce, and an assessment of existing workforce position (whether workforce supply matches demand for services or not).

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