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Australia’s dentists have mauled what they fear is a looming shutdown of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), warning the program’s closure “will be the biggest setback for oral health in a generation.”

Peak body the Australian Dental Association has gone on the attack over uncertainty surrounding the scheme’s future funding in the run-up to the May 3rd Federal Budget, cautioning any rollback will come just as the subsidy program is starting to have an impact.

The CDBS is targeted at around 3.4 million children from lower income backgrounds and provides funding for families of $1,000 in dental treatment every two years.

Its core purpose is to get kids whose parents would otherwise struggle to pay a dentist’s bill turning-up to surgeries to get dental problems, especially decay and cavities, treated much earlier and before they develop into major issues that can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

However with the scheme’s take-up initially lower than estimated, there are fears the cash will be snatched back and repurposed, leading to long terms negative consequences.

As Australian kids gulp down big volumes high sugar soft drinks, dentists say cutting the CDBS isn’t just inviting a disaster, it bucks a wider international health policy push to control excess sugar consumption by using taxes to send a price signal.

“Australia is one of the top 10 countries for high levels of per capita consumption of soft drink where a third of Australians drink a can a day and almost half of children (47 per cent) aged between two and 16 years, drink sugar-sweetened beverages each day. This means that if such habits continue, Australians stand to develop a multitude of health problems in the future,” the ADA said in its statement.

“In spite of the increasing trend of government to support public health, the Australian Government is rushing to get some election year Budget savings by planning to end the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.”

One challenge the Child Dental Benefits Schedule has encountered is that although the program is hitting its mark in terms of targeting, take-up remains lower than estimated thanks to a combination of under-marketing and poor awareness of how to access the scheme.

Dentists say they want a voucher system introduced to replace the present standard form letter from Medicare so that people better understand that they’re entitled to free treatment.

While a voucher system is potentially more expensive to devise, deliver and administer than present bulk billing arrangements, many believe it would be worth implementing to maximise take-up.

A real risk for schemes and programs that underspend is that sooner or later Treasury and the government’s bean counters will seek to claw back the cash and put it to work elsewhere—precisely what the ADA is trying to avoid.

It is understood Health a primary concern of Minister Sussan Ley’s office is that uptake of the CDBS has only been around 30 per cent of eligible recipients.

While the Health Minister is certainly talking-up the long term benefits of early dental intervention, any conspicuous commitment to retaining the CDBS appears to have been shoved under the Budget cone of silence.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure every dollar it invests in dental services delivers the best health outcomes possible,” a spokesman for Ms Ley said.

“We also know that tackling dental health issues early is vital and can alleviate more significant problems and expense later in life. The Turnbull Government continues to work on its previously announced dental health reforms, with more details expected in coming weeks.”

However Labor’s Shadow health Minister, Catherine King, is accusing the Turnbull government of purposefully burying the scheme she says Labor first put in place.

“The government's own report confirms Labor's dental scheme is a success,” Ms King told Government News.

“It shows the scheme has been providing dental devices to the kids who need it most but the Turnbull government is deliberately hiding this, denying millions of kids the chance to get their teeth fixed.”

One obvious policy option both major parties will be cautiously observing is the rollout of taxes and levies on sugary drinks overseas to combat obesity and diabetes – a far tougher public policy sell in a sugar exporting economy like Australia.

Dentists, who frequently go into bat against sugar marketers, are happy to point out how domestic policy contrasts and link it back to the kids’ dental program.

“While the United Kingdom is protecting oral health by announcing its sugar tax, the Australian Government instead plans to kill the Child Dental Benefits Schedule,” the Dental Association said.

It argues that in the two years the scheme has been operating it’s been hitting the mark.

“In just over the two years of the CDBS’ operation, children from low income families have benefited from provision of more than 9.7 million dental treatments; services which they could not otherwise have been able to access,” the Dental Association said.

“No government can legitimately claim it cares about Australian children’s oral health if it denies them dental care because of the lack of means.”
                    [post_title] => Pulling kids dental scheme a kick in the teeth: Dentists
                    [post_excerpt] => Mistake of a generation.
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                    [post_content] => untitled

Premier Mike Baird will introduce a drinks container deposit scheme (CDS) into NSW early this year in a bid to clean up the state’s parks, beaches and rivers.

While the packaging and beverage industries have vociferously opposed a CDS, arguing it will make drinks more expensive and be too difficult to run, local councils and Local Government NSW have long been advocates of such a scheme, believing it will boost recycling rates, reduce littering and decrease the volume of kerbside recycling collections. 

With bottles and cans making up one in three pieces of litter, they are a real pain for councils and can have a significant effect on their bottom lines.

A Local Government NSW (LGNSW)- commissioned report has indicated that councils could save up to $62 million annually and cut their recycling costs by between 19 per cent and 47 per cent once the cash for cans scheme is underway.

Although the fine print is yet to be revealed, it is likely that consumers will receive a 10 cent refund for every bottle or can they return.

Reverse vending machines will be located in public places alongside community recycling centres, to collect the glass, plastic and cans that people mainly drink away from home and it is believed that schools and charities will be the main beneficiaries. 

The vending machines can automatically crush up to 3000 PET bottles or cans and do not allow non-recyclable material to be deposited – something that has dogged local government recycling efforts for years. 

State Environment Minister Rob Stokes has spent months in negotiations with companies including Coca-Cola who were rabid in their opposition to the proposal and tried to worm their way out of it by offering to fund extra recycling bins at beaches and parks.

Mr Stokes knocked back the beverage giant’s offer saying it presented “a significant policy risk” and would be highly unlikely to cut litter to the same extent as a CDS. The government’s target is to reduce litter by 40 per cent by 2016.

Drinks companies will be allowed to increase drink prices by the amount of the deposit and they only have to pay the deposit on containers that are deposited. 

 
                    [post_title] => Cash for cans a reality in NSW
                    [post_excerpt] => Container deposit scheme will proceed.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_17600" align="alignnone" width="614"]Recycling Water Bottles One in three pieces of litter dropped is a can or plastic bottle.[/caption]

NSW councils could save up to up to $62 million annually and cut their recycling costs by more than 40 per cent if the state introduces a container deposit scheme (CDS), argues Local Government NSW (LGNSW).

State Environment Minister Rob Stokes will take two proposals to cabinet today for a statewide CDS, where consumers get a 10 cent refund for every bottle or can they return.

One option involves situating ‘reverse vending machines’ at shopping centres and recycling depots and the other, to be funded by the beverage industry, would focus more on increasing recycling bins and running anti-littering campaigns.

If the CDS does go through it is understood that it would take two years to implement.

While the packaging and beverage industries vociferously oppose CDS, arguing it will make drinks more expensive and be too difficult to run, local councils and Local Government NSW have long been advocates of such a scheme, believing it would boost recycling rates, reduce littering and decrease the volume of kerbside recycling collections.

With bottles and cans making up one in three pieces of litter, they are a real pain for councils and can have a significant effect on their bottom lines.

A 2012 LGNSW-commissioned report, “The impacts (cost/benefits) of the introduction of a container deposit/refund system (CDS) on kerbside recycling and councils”, presented a strong case backing a CDS and outlining the potential benefits for councils.

The report found that NSW councils would cut their overall recycling costs by between 19 per cent and 47 per cent, saving between $23 to $62 million annually.

The report also claims that there would be 17 per cent less material in kerbside recycling, which is a relatively expensive service to run, once a scheme kicked in.

Of course, not all rubbish that can go into recycling would be eligible under the CDS – only bottles and cans, and these account for one-fifth of kerbside recyclables.

South Australia introduced a CDS scheme in 1975 and the Northern Territory introduced a similar scheme in December 2011. Recent moves to introduce a CDS into Tasmania and Western Australia failed while Victoria had a short-lived scheme which was rescinded.

The 2012 report said: “Under a CDS and based on South Australia CDS return rates, 82 per cent of NSW eligible CDS material generated at home would be diverted to depots, reducing kerbside recycling by 17 per cent.”

Unredeemed deposits would also be a boon to councils. The report estimates it would increase the commodity value of sorted materials by almost one-third, or $72 per tonne.

The City of Sydney Council began piloting its reverse vending machines in June this year, offering food truck vouchers, a 10 cent donation to charity or the chance to enter a draw to attend the Mayor’s New Year’s Eve celebrations rather than 10 cents.

The LGNSW was a founder member of the Boomerang Alliance in 2006, a  group pushing for a CDS which includes environment groups such as the Total Environment Centre and Clean Up Australia.

The scheme has been controversial within the environmental sector, as well as with industry. The national office of Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) caused a major stir in February this year when it declared its opposition to a CDS scheme, a stance that its WA office has gone public about not sharing.

KAB, which gets around one-third of its funding from Coca-Cola, has said it backs ‘appropriate strategies to adopt that cover holistic litter reduction’ instead.
                    [post_title] => NSW councils back container deposit scheme
                    [post_excerpt] => Liberals to vote on CDS.
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                    [post_content] => 

By Julian Bajkowski

High profile litter-reduction group Keep Australia Beautiful is talking up its links to beverage industry heavyweights like Coca Cola a strong positive after South Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Ian Hunter, criticised the link and lobbying against the introduction of a national container deposit scheme.

“There is nothing to defend, it is well known that Keep Australia Beautiful works in partnership with industry and corporate Australia to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, Coca Cola is one of these partnerships,” said KAB National Executive Officer Peter McLean.

“We use this funding to distribute community recycling grants across Australia.”

The public stand from the group comes amidst criticism by advocates for a container deposit scheme that KAB’s environmental agenda is largely being driven by the interests of Coca Cola and the powerful beverages lobby who do not want a front-end charge put on drink sales.

According to KAB it receives funding from Coca Cola “to run a community grants recycling program” but argues that “no board members are industry representatives" and that it is governed “independently and by no one else.”

Beverage litter reduction is no small beer, with KAB saying it received $441,000 from Coca Cola that was in turn “distributed to communities wishing to improve beverage container recycling as part of our Beverage Container Recycling Grants program.”

KAB said that money from Coca Cola constitutes 26 per cent of its national funding - but only “a 7 per cent portion of the entire state and territory networks funds” which the group says are made up of money governments, sponsorship, membership and grants.

The issue of fighting against container deposits has become an article of faith for the Australian beverages industry where opposition to front-loading charges for collection and disposal more prominent than other potentially polluting industries like automotive fluids and electronics which both have up-front levies.

“We aren’t activists, we work in partnership and wield our influence by working in collaboration, we keep people and organisations at the table and our door is always open. This is our heritage and this is what our founder Dame Phyllis Frost would be proud to see us doing, this was her ideals which continue today.”

Keep Australia Beautiful is arguing that container deposits represent “an expensive solution to operate compared to alternatives that are already established, cover all packaging materials” which it says are already “achieving results.”

“Running a CDS alongside other recycling initiatives doesn’t work,” KAB said in a statement to Government News.

But the South Australian government begs to differ, and again argued last week that it’s long established container scheme is the model of success, with Mr Hunter circulating statements from Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB) Executive Director Environmental Solutions, John Phillips, saying that container deposits legislation was had a positive effect which was “more significant than the interstate critics choose to recognise.”

A statement from Mr Hunters Office also quotes KESAB’s Executive Director Environmental Solutions, John Phillips, as saying that container deposits legislation has a positive impact that is much more extensive than that seen by Keep Australia Beautiful National Association “and is more significant than the interstate critics choose to recognise.”

Keep Australia Beautiful’s national arm isn’t buying into an internal debate.

“We aren’t activists, we work in partnership and wield our influence by working in collaboration, we keep people and organisations at the table and our door is always open," Mr McLean said.

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The CDBS is targeted at around 3.4 million children from lower income backgrounds and provides funding for families of $1,000 in dental treatment every two years. Its core purpose is to get kids whose parents would otherwise struggle to pay a dentist’s bill turning-up to surgeries to get dental problems, especially decay and cavities, treated much earlier and before they develop into major issues that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. However with the scheme’s take-up initially lower than estimated, there are fears the cash will be snatched back and repurposed, leading to long terms negative consequences. As Australian kids gulp down big volumes high sugar soft drinks, dentists say cutting the CDBS isn’t just inviting a disaster, it bucks a wider international health policy push to control excess sugar consumption by using taxes to send a price signal. “Australia is one of the top 10 countries for high levels of per capita consumption of soft drink where a third of Australians drink a can a day and almost half of children (47 per cent) aged between two and 16 years, drink sugar-sweetened beverages each day. This means that if such habits continue, Australians stand to develop a multitude of health problems in the future,” the ADA said in its statement. “In spite of the increasing trend of government to support public health, the Australian Government is rushing to get some election year Budget savings by planning to end the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.” One challenge the Child Dental Benefits Schedule has encountered is that although the program is hitting its mark in terms of targeting, take-up remains lower than estimated thanks to a combination of under-marketing and poor awareness of how to access the scheme. Dentists say they want a voucher system introduced to replace the present standard form letter from Medicare so that people better understand that they’re entitled to free treatment. While a voucher system is potentially more expensive to devise, deliver and administer than present bulk billing arrangements, many believe it would be worth implementing to maximise take-up. A real risk for schemes and programs that underspend is that sooner or later Treasury and the government’s bean counters will seek to claw back the cash and put it to work elsewhere—precisely what the ADA is trying to avoid. It is understood Health a primary concern of Minister Sussan Ley’s office is that uptake of the CDBS has only been around 30 per cent of eligible recipients. While the Health Minister is certainly talking-up the long term benefits of early dental intervention, any conspicuous commitment to retaining the CDBS appears to have been shoved under the Budget cone of silence. “The Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure every dollar it invests in dental services delivers the best health outcomes possible,” a spokesman for Ms Ley said. “We also know that tackling dental health issues early is vital and can alleviate more significant problems and expense later in life. The Turnbull Government continues to work on its previously announced dental health reforms, with more details expected in coming weeks.” However Labor’s Shadow health Minister, Catherine King, is accusing the Turnbull government of purposefully burying the scheme she says Labor first put in place. “The government's own report confirms Labor's dental scheme is a success,” Ms King told Government News. “It shows the scheme has been providing dental devices to the kids who need it most but the Turnbull government is deliberately hiding this, denying millions of kids the chance to get their teeth fixed.” One obvious policy option both major parties will be cautiously observing is the rollout of taxes and levies on sugary drinks overseas to combat obesity and diabetes – a far tougher public policy sell in a sugar exporting economy like Australia. Dentists, who frequently go into bat against sugar marketers, are happy to point out how domestic policy contrasts and link it back to the kids’ dental program. “While the United Kingdom is protecting oral health by announcing its sugar tax, the Australian Government instead plans to kill the Child Dental Benefits Schedule,” the Dental Association said. It argues that in the two years the scheme has been operating it’s been hitting the mark. “In just over the two years of the CDBS’ operation, children from low income families have benefited from provision of more than 9.7 million dental treatments; services which they could not otherwise have been able to access,” the Dental Association said. “No government can legitimately claim it cares about Australian children’s oral health if it denies them dental care because of the lack of means.” [post_title] => Pulling kids dental scheme a kick in the teeth: Dentists [post_excerpt] => Mistake of a generation. 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coca-cola

coca-cola

Keep Australia Beautiful stands firm on Container Deposits Opposition

By Julian Bajkowski High profile litter-reduction group Keep Australia Beautiful is talking up its links to beverage industry heavyweights like Coca Cola a strong positive after South Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Ian Hunter, criticised the link and lobbying against the introduction of a national container deposit scheme. “There is nothing to defend, […]